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The  Redemptorists  of 
the  Toronto  Province 

from  the  Library  Collection  of 
Holy  Redeemer  College,  Windsor 

University  of 
St.  Michael's  College,  Toronto 



Edited   by  GEORGE    M.   WRONG    and    H.  H.   LANGTON 






By  Stephen  Leacock. 


By  Stephen  Leacock. 





By  Charles  W.  Colby. 


By  Thomas  Guthrie  Marquis. 


By  William  Bennett  Munro. 


By  Thomas  Chapais. 


By  Charles  W.  Colby. 





By  William  Wood. 


By  Arthur  G.  Doughty. 


By  William  Wood. 


By  William  Wood. 



By  William  Wood. 


By  W.  Stewart  Wallace. 


By  William  Wood. 






By  Thomas  Guthrie  Marquis. 


By  Louis  Aubrey  Wood. 



By  Ethel  T.  Raymond. 





By  Agnes  C.  Laut. 

19.  PATHFINDERS     OF     THE     GREAr- 


By  Lawrence  J.  Burpee. 

20.  ADVENTURERS  OF  THE  FAR  NORTt        ? 

By  Stephen  Leacock. 


By  Louis  Aubrey  Wood. 


By  Agnes  C.  Laut. 


By  Agnes  C.  Laut. 







By  W.  Stewart  Wallace. 

25.  THE  'PATRIOTES'  OF  '37 

By  Alfred  D.  DeCelles. 


By  William  Lawson  Grant. 





27.  THE     WINNING 

By  Archibald  MacMechan. 




28.  THE     FATHERS     OF     CONFEDERA- 


By  A.  H.  U.  Colquhoun. 


By  Sir  Joseph  Pope. 


By  Oscar  D.  Skelton. 



By  William  Wood. 


By  Oscar  D.  Skelton. 






THE  DAY  OF  . 


A  Chronicle  of  the  First  Prime  Minister 
of  the  Dominion 







Copyright  in  all  Countries  subscribing  to 
the  Berne  Convention 



Wr.rniN  a  short  time  will  be  celebrated  the 
centenary  of  the  birth  of  the  great  statesman 
who,  half  a  century  ago,  laid  the  foundations 
and,  for  almost  twenty  years,  guided  the 
destinies  of  the  Dominion  of  Canada. 

Nearly  a  like  period  has  elapsed  since  the 
author's  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald  was 
published.  That  work,  -  appearing  as  it  did 
little  more  than  three  years  after  his  death, 
was  necessarily  subject  to  many  limitations 
and  restrictions.  As  a  connected  story  it 
did  not  profess  to  come  down  later  than 
the  year  1873,  nor  has  the  time  yet  arrived 
for  its  continuation  and  completion  on  the 
same  lines.  That  task  is  probably  reserved 
for  other  and  freer  hands  than  mine.  At 
the  same  time,  it  seems  desirable  that,  as 
Sir  John  Macdonald 's  centenary  approaches, 
there  should  be  available,  in  convenient  form, 
a  short  resume  of  the  salient  features  of  his 


career,  which,  without  going  deeply  and  at 
length  into  all  the  public  questions  of  his 
time,  should  present  a  familiar  account  of 
the  man  and  his  work  as  a  whole,  as  well 
as,  in  a  lesser  degree,  of  those  with  whom  he 
was  intimately  associated.  It  is  with  such 
object  that  this  little  book  has  been  written. 


OTTAWA,  1914. 


PREFATORY  NOTE  .  .  .  .  .     vii 

I.  YOUTH  ....  .1 

II.  MIDDLE  LIFE  .  .40 

III.  OLD  AGE        '••:;,'• 139 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL  NOTE          .  .  .  .184 

INDEX    ,  .    137 


WAY, 1886  .    '  .  .  ,         Frontispiece 
From  a  colour  drawing;  by  C.  W.  Jefferys. 


PHUSTOWN      .  .  ,  .  .       Facing  page  4 

From   a   print   in   the  John    Ross    Robertson 
Collection,  Toronto  Public  Library. 

JOHN  A.  MACDONALD  IN  1842   ...  12 

From  a  photograph. 


From  a  portrait  in  the  John  Ross  Robertson 
Collection,  Toronto  Public  Library. 


From    the   John    Ross    Robertson    Collection, 
Toronto  Public  Library. 


From  a  portrait  in  the  John  Ross  Robertson 
Collection,  Toronto  Public  Library. 

SIR  JOHN  A.  MACDONALD  IN  1872     .  ,,96 

From  a  photograph. 

SIR  JOHN  A.  MACDONALD  IN  1883     .  .  „        138 

From  a  photograph. 



of  Hugh  Macdonald  and  Helen  Shaw,  was 
born  in  Glasgow  on  January  n,  1815.  His 
father,  originally  from  Sutherlandshire,  re- 
moved in  early  life  to  Glasgow,  where  he 
formed  a  partnership  with  one  M'Phail,  and 
embarked  in  business  as  a  cotton  manu- 
facturer. Subsequently  he  engaged  in  the 
manufacture  of  bandanas,  and  the  style  of 
the  firm  became  '  H.  Macdonald  and  Co.* 
The  venture  did  not  prove  successful,  and 
Macdonald  resolved  to  try  his  fortunes  in  the 
New  World.  Accordingly,  in  the  year  1820, 
he  embarked  for  Canada  in  the  good  ship 
Earl  of  Buckinghamshire,  and  after  a  voyage 
long  and  irksome  even  for  those  days,  landed 
at  Quebec  and  journeyed  overland  to  Kings- 
ton, then  and  for  some  years  after  the  most 
considerable  town  in  Upper  Canada,  boasting 
a  population  (exclusive  of  the  military)  of 
about  2500  souls. 

D.J.M.  A 


At  that  time  the  whole  population  of  what 
is  now  the  province  of  Ontario  did  not  exceed 
120,000,  clustered,  for  the  most  part,  in  settle- 
ments along  the  Bay  of  Quinte,  Lake  Ontario 
proper,  and  the  vicinity  of  the  Niagara  and 
Detroit  rivers.  The  interior  of  the  province 
was  covered  with  the  primeval  forest,  which 
disappeared  slowly,  and  only  by  dint  of  pain- 
ful and  unceasing  toil.  The  early  accounts 
of  Kingston  bear  eloquent  testimony  to  its 
primitive  character.  In  1815,  according  to 
a  correspondent  of  the  Kingston  Gazette,  the 
town  possessed  no  footways  worthy  of  the 
name,  in  consequence  of  which  lack  it  was, 
during  rainy  weather,  '  scarcely  possible  to 
move  about  without  being  in  mud  to  the 
ankles.'  No  provision  existed  for  lighting 
the  streets  '  in  the  dark  of  the  moon ' ;  a  fire- 
engine  was  badly  needed,  and  also  the  enforce- 
ment of  a  regulation  prohibiting  the  piling  of 
wood  in  public  thoroughfares. 

Communication  with  the  outside  world,  in 
those  early  days,  was  slow,  toilsome,  and 
sometimes  dangerous.  The  roads  were,  for 
the  most  part,  Indian  paths,  somewhat  im- 
proved in  places,  but  utterly  unsuited,  par- 
ticularly in  spring  and  autumn,  for  the  passage 
of  heavily  laden  vehicles.  In  1817  a  weekly 


stage  began  running  from  Kingston  to  York 
(Toronto),  with  a  fare  of  eighteen  dollars. 
The  opening  of  an  overland  highway  between 
Kingston  and  Montreal,  which  could  be 
travelled  on  by  horses,  was  hailed  as  a  great 
boon.  Prior  to  this  the  journey  to  Montreal 
had  been  generally  made  by  water,  in  an 
enlarged  and  improved  type  of  bateau  known 
as  a  Durham  boat,  which  had  a  speed  of  two 
to  three  miles  an  hour.  The  cost  to  the 
passenger  was  one  cent  and  a  half  a  mile, 
including  board. 

In  the  early  twenties  of  the  nineteenth 
century  the  infant  province  of  Upper  Canada 
found  itself  slowly  recovering  from  the  effects 
of  the  War  of  1812-14.  Major-General  Sir 
Peregrine  Maitland,  the  lieutenant-governor, 
together  with  the  Executive  and  Legislative 
Councils,  was  largely  under  the  influence  of 
the  *  Family  Compact '  of  those  days.  The 
oligarchical  and  selfish  rule  of  this  coterie 
gave  rise  to  much  dissatisfaction  among  the 
people,  whose  discontent,  assiduously  fanned 
by  agitators  like  Robert  Gourlay,  culminated 
in  open  rebellion  in  the  succeeding  decade. 

Such  was  the  condition  of  things  prevailing 
at  the  time  when  the  future  prime  minister 
arrived  in  the  town  with  which  he  was  destined 


to  be  in  close  association  for  nearly  three- 
quarters  of  a  century. 

Hugh  Macdonald,  after  a  few  years  of  un- 
satisfactory experience  in  Kingston,  deter- 
mined upon  seeking  fortune  farther  west. 
Accordingly  he  moved  up  the  Bay  of  Quinte 
to  the  township  of  Adolphustown,  which  had 
been  settled  about  forty  years  previously  by 
a  party  of  United  Empire  Loyalists  under  the 
command  of  one  Captain  Van  Alstine.  Here, 
at  Hay  Bay,  Macdonald  opened  a  shop.  Sub- 
sequently he  moved  across  the  Bay  of  Quinte 
to  a  place  in  the  county  of  Prince  Edward, 
known  then  as  the  Stone  Mills,  and  after- 
wards as  Glenora,  where  he  built  a  grist-mill. 
This  undertaking,  however,  did  not  prosper, 
and  in  1836  he  returned  to  Kingston,  where 
he  obtained  a  post  in  the  Commercial  Bank. 
Shortly  afterwards  he  fell  into  ill  health,  and 
in  1841  he  died. 

Few  places  in  the  wide  Dominion  of  Canada 
possess  greater  charm  than  the  lovely  arm  of 
Lake  Ontario  beside  whose  pleasant  waters 
Sir  John  Macdonald  spent  the  days  of  his 
early  boyhood.  The  settlements  had  been 
founded  by  Loyalists  who  had  left  the  United 
States  rather  than  join  in  revolution.  The 
lad  lived  in  daily  contact  with  men  who  had 


given  the  strongest  possible  testimony  of  their 
loyalty,  in  relinquishing  all  that  was  dear  to 
them  rather  than  forswear  allegiance  to  their 
king,  and  it  is  not  surprising  that  he  imbibed, 
in  the  morning  of  life,  those  principles  of 
devotion  to  the  crown  and  to  British  institu- 
tions which  regulated  every  stage  of  his  sub- 
sequent career.  To  the  last  he  never  forgot 
the  Bay  of  Quinte,  and  whenever  I  passed 
through  that  charming  locality  in  his  com- 
pany he  would  speak  with  enthusiasm  of  the 
days  when  he  lived  there.  He  would  recall 
some  event  connected  with  each  neighbour- 
hood, until,  between  Glasgow  and  Kingston, 
Adolphustown,  Hay  Bay,  and  the  Stone  Mills, 
it  v/as  hard  to  tell  what  was  his  native  place. 
I  told  him  so  one  day,  and  he  laughingly 
replied  :  '  That 's  just  what  the  Grits  say. 
The  Globe  has  it  that  I  am  born  in  a  new  place 
every  general  election  !  ' 

When  Hugh  Macdonald  moved  from  Hay 
Bay  to  the  Stone  Mills,  his  son  John,  then 
about  ten  years  of  age,  returned  to  Kingston 
to  pursue  his  studies.  He  attended  the 
grammar  school  in  that  town  until  he  reached 
the  age  of  fifteen,  when  he  began  the  world 
for  himself.  Five  years  at  a  grammar  school 
was  all  the  formal  education  Sir  John  Mac- 


donald  ever  enjoyed.  To  reflect  upon  the 
vast  fund  of  knowledge  of  all  kinds  which  he 
acquired  in  after  years  by  his  reading,  his 
observation,  and  his  experience,  is  to  realize 
to  the  full  the  truth  of  the  saying,  that  a 
man's  education  often  begins  with  his  leaving 
school.  He  always  regretted  the  disadvan- 
tages of  his  early  life.  '  If  I  had  had  a 
university  education/  I  heard  him  say  one 
day,  '  I  should  probably  have  entered  upon 
the  path  of  literature  and  acquired  distinction 
therein.'  He  did  not  add,  as  he  might  have 
done,  that  the  successful  government  of 
millions  of  men,  the  strengthening  of  an 
empire,  the  creation  of  a  great  dominion,  call 
for  the  possession  and  exercise  of  rarer  quali- 
ties than  are  necessary  to  the  achievement  of 
literary  fame. 

In  1830  Macdonald,  then  fifteen  years  of 
age,  entered  upon  the  study  of  law  in  the  office 
of  George  Mackenzie  of  Kingston,  a  close 
friend  of  his  father,  with  whom  also  he  lodged. 
In  1832  Mackenzie  opened  a  branch  office  in 
the  neighbouring  town  of  Napanee,  to  which 
place  Macdonald  was  occasionally  sent  to  look 
after  the  business.  In  1833,  by  an  arrange- 
ment made  between  Mackenzie  and  L.  P. 
Macpher3on — a  relative  of  the  Macdonalds — 


young  Macdonald  was  sent  to  Picton,  to  take 
charge  of  Macpherson's  law-office  during  his 
absence  from  Canada. 

On  being  called  to  the  bar  in  1836,  Mac- 
donald opened  an  office  in  Kingston  and 
began  the  practice  of  law  on  his  own  account. 
In  the  first  year  of  his  profession,  there  entered 
his  office  as  student  a  lad  destined  to  become, 
in  Ontario,  scarcely  less  eminent  than  him- 
self. This  was  Oliver  Mowat,  the  son  of 
Macdonald's  intimate  personal  and  political 
friend,  John  Mowat  of  Kingston.  Oliver 
Mowat  studied  law  four  years  with  Macdonald, 
leaving  his  office  in  1840.  About  the  same 
time  another  youth,  likewise  destined  to 
achieve  more  than  local  celebrity  as  Sir 
Alexander  Campbell,  applied  for  admission  to 
the  office.  Few  circumstances  in  the  political 
history  of  Canada  have  been  more  dwelt  upon 
than  this  noteworthy  association  ;  few  are 
more  worthy  of  remark.  A  young  man, 
barely  twenty-one  years  of  age,  without  any 
special  advantages  of  birth  or  education, 
opens  a  law-office  in  Kingston,  at  that  time 
a  place  of  less  than  five  thousand  inhabitants. 
Two  lads  come  to  him  to  study  law.  The 
three  work  together  for  a  few  years.  They 
afterwards  go  into  politics.  One  drifts  away 


from  the  other  two,  who  remain  closely  allied. 
After  the  lapse  of  twenty-five  years  the 
three  meet  again,  at  the  Executive  Council 
Board,  members  of  the  same  Administration. 
Another  twenty-five  years  roll  by,  and  the 
principal  is  prime  minister  of  Canada,  while 
one  of  the  students  is  lieutenant-governor  of 
the  great  province  of  Ontario,  the  other  his 
chief  adviser,  and  all  three  are  decorated  by 
Her  Majesty  for  distinguished  services  to  the 

The  times  were  rough.  In  Macdonald's 
first  case,  which  was  at  Picton,  he  and  the 
opposing  counsel  became  involved  in  an  argu- 
ment, which,  waxing  hotter  and  hotter, 
culminated  in  blows.  They  closed  and  fought 
in  open  court,  to  the  scandal  of  the  judge,  who 
immediately  instructed  the  crier  to  enforce 
order.  This  crier  was  an  old  man,  personally 
much  attached  to  Macdonald,  in  whom  he 
took  a  lively  interest.  In  pursuance  of  his 
duty,  however,  he  was  compelled  to  interfere. 
Moving  towards  the  combatants,  and  circling 
round  them,  he  shouted  in  stentorian  tones, 
'  Order  in  the  court,  order  in  the  court ! ' 
adding  in  a  low,  but  intensely  sympathetic 
voice  as  he  passed  near  his  protege,  *  Hit  him, 
John  !  '  I  have  heard  Sir  John  Macdonald 


say  that,  in  many  a  parliamentary  encounter 
of  after  years,  he  has  seemed  to  hear,  above 
the  excitement  of  the  occasion,  the  voice  of  the 
old  crier  whispering  in  his  ear  the  words  of 
encouragement,  *  Hit  him,  John ! ' 

In  1837  the  rebellion  broke  out,  and 
Macdonald  hastened  to  give  his  services  to 
the  cause  of  law  and  order.  '  I  carried  my 
musket  in  '37,'  he  was  wont  to  say  in  after 
years.  One  day  he  gave  me  an  account  of  a 
long  march  his  company  made,  I  forget  from 
•what  place,  but  with  Toronto  as  the  objective 
point.  '  The  day  was  hot,  my  feet  were 
blistered — I  was  but  a  weary  boy — and  I 
thought  I  should  have  dropped  under  the 
weight  of  the  flint  musket  which  galled  my 
shoulder.  But  I  managed  to  keep  up  with  my 
companion,  a  grim  old  soldier,  who  seemed 
impervious  to  fatigue.' 

In  1838  took  place  the  notorious  Von 
Shoultz  affair,  about  which  much  misunder- 
standing exists.  The  facts  are  these.  During 
the  rebellion  of  1837-38  a  party  of  Americans 
crossed  the  border  and  captured  a  windmill 
near  Prescott,  which  they  held  for  eight  days. 
They  were  finally  dislodged,  arrested,  and 
tried  by  court-martial.  The  quartermaster  of 
the  insurgents  was  a  man  named  Gold.  He 


was  taken,  as  was  also  Von  Shoultz,  a  Polish 
gentleman.  Gold  had  a  brother-in-law  in 
Kingston,  named  Ford.  Ford  was  anxious 
that  some  effort  should  be  made  to  defend 
his  relative.  Leading  lawyers  refused  the  ser- 
vice. One  morning  Ford  came  to  Macdonald's 
house  before  he  was  up.  After  much  entreaty 
he  persuaded  Macdonald  to  undertake  the 
defence.  There  could  be  practically  no  de- 
fence, however,  and  Von  Shoultz,  Gold,  and 
nine  others  were  condemned  and  hanged. 
Von  Shoultz's  career  had  been  chequered. 
He  was  born  in  Cracow.  His  father,  a  major 
in  a  Cracow  regiment,  was  killed  in  action 
while  fighting  for  the  cause  of  an  independent 
Poland,  and  on  the  field  of  battle  his  son  was 
selected  by  the  corps  to  fill  his  father's  place. 
He  afterwards  drifted  about  Europe  until  he 
reached  Florence,  where  he  taught  music  for 
a  while.  There  he  married  an  English  girl, 
daughter  of  an  Indian  officer,  General  Mac- 
kenzie. Von  Shoultz  subsequently  crossed 
to  America,  settled  in  Virginia,  took  out  a 
patent  for  crystallizing  salt,  and  acquired 
some  property.  The  course  of  business  took 
him  to  Salina,  N.Y.,  not  far  from  the  Canadian 
boundary,  where  he  heard  of  the  rebellion 
going  on  in  Canada.  He  not  unnaturally 

YOUTH  ii 

associated  the  cause  of  the  rebels  with  that  of 
his  Polish  brethren  warring  against  oppression. 
He  had  been  told  that  the  Canadians  were 
serfs,  fighting  for  liberty.  Fired  with  zeal 
for  such  a  cause,  he  crossed  the  frontier  with  a 
company  and  was  captured.  He  was  only 
second  in  command,  the  nominal  chief  being 
a  Yankee  named  Abbey,  who  tried  to  run 
away,  and  who,  Von  Shoultz  declared  to 
Macdonald,  was  a  coward. 

Von  Shoultz  left  to  Macdonald  a  hundred 
dollars  in  his  will.  '  I  wish  my  executors 
to  give  Mr  John  A.  Macdonald  $100  for  his 
kindness  to  me.'  This  was  in  the  original 
draft,  but  Macdonald  left  it  out  when  reading 
over  the  will  for  his  signature.  Von  Shoultz 
observed  the  omission,  and  said,  *  You  have 
left  that  out/  Macdonald  replied  yes,  that 
he  would  not  take  it.  '  Well/  replied  Von 
Shoultz,  '  if  it  cannot  be  done  one  way,  it 
can  another.'  So  he  wrote  with  his  own  hand 
a  letter  of  instructions  to  his  executors  to  pay 
this  money  over,  but  Macdonald  refused  to 
accept  it. 

It  has  been  generally  stated  that  it  was  the 
*  eloquent  appeal '  on  behalf  of  this  unfortu- 
nate man  which  established  Macdonald's  re- 
putation at  the  bar,  but  this  is  quite  a  mistake. 


Macdonald  never  made  any  speech  in  defence 
of  Von  Shoultz,  for  two  very  good  reasons. 
First,  the  Pole  pleaded  guilty  at  the  outset ; 
and,  secondly,  the  trial  was  by  court-martial, 
on  which  occasions,  in  those  days,  counsel  were 
not  allowed  to  address  the  court  on  behalf  of 
the  prisoner. 

This  erroneous  impression  leads  me  to  say 
that  a  good  deal  of  misapprehension  exists  re- 
specting the  early  manhood  of  Canada's  first 
prime  minister.  He  left  school,  as  we  have 
seen,  at  an  age  when  many  boys  begin  their 
studies.  He  did  this  in  order  that  he  might 
assist  in  supporting  his  parents  and  sisters, 
who,  from  causes  which  I  have  indicated,  were 
in  need  of  his  help.  The  responsibility  was 
no  light  one  for  a  lad  of  fifteen.  Life  with 
him  in  those  days  was  a  struggle  ;  and  all  the 
glamour  with  which  writers  seek  to  invest  it, 
who  begin  their  accounts  by  mysterious  allu- 
sions to  the  mailed  barons  of  his  line,  is  quite 
out  of  place.  His  grandfather  was  a  merchant 
in  a  Highland  village.  His  father  served  his 
apprenticeship  in  his  grandfather's  shop,  and 
he  himself  was  compelled  to  begin  the  battle 
of  life  when  a  mere  lad.  Sir  John  Macdonald 
owed  nothing  to  birth  or  fortune.  He  did 
not  think  little  of  either  of  them,  but  it  is  the 

Age  27 


YOUTH  13 

simple  truth  to  say  that  he  attained  the 
eminent  position  which  he  afterwards  occupied 
solely  by  his  own  exertions.  He  was  proud 
of  this  fact,  and  those  who  thought  to  flatter 
him  by  asserting  the  contrary  little  knew  the 
man.  Nor  is  it  true  that  he  leaped  at  one 
bound  into  the  first  rank  of  the  legal  pro- 
fession. On  the  contrary,  I  believe  that  his 
progress  at  the  bar,  although  uniform  and 
constant,  was  not  extraordinarily  rapid.  He 
once  told  me  that  he  was  unfortunate,  in  the 
beginning  of  his  career,  with  his  criminal 
cases,  several  of  his  clients,  of  whom  Von 
Shoultz  was  one,  having  been  hanged.  This 
piece  of  ill  luck  was  so  marked  that  somebody 
(I  think  it  was  William  Henry  Draper,  after- 
wards chief  justice)  said  to  him,  jokingly,  one 
day,  *  John  A.,  we  shall  have  to  make  you 
attorney-general,  owing  to  your  success  in 
securing  convictions  !  ' 

Macdonald's  mother  was  in  many  ways  a 
remarkable  woman.  She  had  great  energy 
and  strength  of  will,  and  it  was  she,  to  use  his 
own  words,  who  *  kept  the  family  together  ' 
during  their  first  years  in  Canada.  For  her 
he  ever  cherished  a  tender  regard,  and  her 
death,  which  occurred  in  1862,  was  a  great 
grief  to  him. 


The  selection  of  Kingston  by  Lord  Syden- 
ham  in  1840  as  the  seat  of  government  of 
the  united  provinces  of  Canada  was  a  boon 
to  the  town.  Real  property  advanced  in 
price,  some  handsome  buildings  were  erected, 
apart  from  those  used  as  public  offices,  and 
a  general  improvement  in  the  matter  of 
pavements,  drains,  and  other  public  utili- 
ties became  manifest.  Meanwhile,  however, 
Toronto  had  far  outstripped  its  sometime 
rival.  In  1824  the  population  of  Toronto 
(then  York)  had  been  less  than  1700,  while 
that  of  Kingston  had  been  about  3000,  yet 
in  1848  Toronto  counted  23,500  inhabitants 
to  Kingston's  8400.  Still,  Kingston  jogged 
along  very  comfortably,  and  Macdonald  added 
steadily  to  his  reputation  and  practice.  On 
September  i,  1843,  he  formed  a  partnership 
with  his  quondam  student  Alexander  Camp- 
bell, who  had  just  been  admitted  to  the  bar. 
It  was  not  long  before  Macdonald  became 
prominent  as  a  citizen  of  Kingston.  In 
March  1843  he  was  elected  to  the  city  council 
for  what  is  now  a  portion  of  Frontenac 
and  Cataraqui  wards.  But  a  higher  destiny 
awaited  him. 

The  rebellion  which  had  broken  out  in 
Lower  Canada  and  spread  to  the  upper  pro- 

YOUTH  15 

vince,  while  the  future  prime  minister  was 
quietly  applying  himself  to  business,  had  been 
suppressed.  In  Upper  Canada,  indeed,  it  had 
never  assumed  a  serious  character.  Its  leaders, 
or  some  of  them  at  any  rate,  had  received  the 
reward  of  their  transgressions.  Lord  Durham 
had  come  to  Canada,  charged  with  the 
arduous  duty  of  ascertaining  the  cause  of  the 
grave  disorders  which  afflicted  the  colony. 
He  had  executed  his  difficult  task  with  rare 
skill,  but  had  gone  home  broken-hearted  to 
die,  leaving  behind  him  a  report  which  will 
ever  remain  a  monument  no  less  to  his  powers 
of  observation  and  analysis  than  to  the  clear- 
ness and  vigour  of  his  literary  style.*  The 

*  The  question  of  the  authorship  of  Lord  Durham's  Report  is 
one  which  all  Canadians  have  heard  debated  from  their  youth 
up.  No  matter  who  may  have  composed  the  document,  it  was 
Lord  Durham's  opinions  and  principles  that  it  expressed.  Lord 
Durham  signed  it  and  took  responsibility  for  it,  and  it  very 
naturally  and  properly  goes  under  his  name.  But  in  a  review  of 
my  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald  the  Athenaeum  (January  12, 
1895) said:  'He, 'the  author,  « repeats  at  second  hand,  and  with 
the  incorrectness  of  those  who  do  not  take  the  trouble  to  verify 
their  references,  that  Lord  Durham's  report  on  Canada'  was 
written  by  the  nobleman  whose  name  it  bears.  *  He  could  easily 
have  ascertained  that  the  author  of  the  report  which  he  com- 
mends was  Charles  Buller,  two  paragraphs  excepted  which 
were  contributed  by  Gibbon  Wakefield  and  R.  D.  Hanson.' 
Some  years  later,  however,  in  a  review  of  Mr  Stuart  Reid's 
book  on  Lord  Durham,  the  same  Athenaeum  (November  3,  1906) 
observed :  *  Mr  Reid  conclusively  disposes  of  Brougham's  malig- 


union  of  Upper  and  Lower  Canada,  advocated 
by  Lord  Durham,  had  taken  place.  The  seat 
of  government  had  been  fixed  at  Kingston, 
and  the  experiment  of  a  united  Canada  had 

We  have  seen  that  Macdonald,  at  the  out- 
break of  the  rebellion,  hastened  to  place  his 
military  services  at  the  disposal  of  the  crown. 
On  the  restoration  of  law  and  order  we  find  his 
political  sympathies  ever  on  the  side  of  what 
used  to  be  called  the  governor's  party.  This 
does  not  mean  that  at  any  time  of  his  career 
he  was  a  member  of,  or  in  full  sympathy 
with,  the  high  Toryism  of  the  '  Family  Com- 
pact/ In  those  days  he  does  not  even  seem 
to  have  classed  himself  as  a  Tory.*  Like 
many  moderate  men  in  the  province,  Mac- 
donald sided  with  this  party  because  he 
hated  sedition.  The  members  of  the  '  Family 

nant  slander  that  the  matter  of  Lord  Durham's  report  on  Canada 
came  from  a  felon  (Wakefield)  and  the  style  from  a  coxcomb 
(Buller).  The  latter,  in  his  account  of  the  mission,  frequently 
alludes  to  the  report,  but  not  a  single  phrase  hints  that  he  was 
the  author.' 

*  *  It  is  well  known,  sir,  that  while  I  have  always  been  a 
member  of  what  is  called  the  Conservative  party,  I  could  never 
have  been  called  a  Tory,  although  there  is  no  man  who  more 
respects  what  is  called  old-fogey  Toryism  than  I  do,  so  long  as 
it  is  based  upon  principle '  (Speech  of  Hon.  John  A.  Macdonald 
at  St  Thomas,  1860). 

YOUTH  17 

Compact '  who  stood  by  the  governor  were 
devotedly  loyal  to  the  crown  and  to  mon- 
archical institutions,  while  the  violent  lan- 
guage of  some  of  the  Radical  party  alienated 
many  persons  who,  while  they  were  not 
Tories,  were  even  less  disposed  to  become 

The  exacting  demands  of  his  Radical  ad- 
visers upon  the  governor-general  at  this  period 
occasionally  passed  all  bounds.  One  of  their 
grievances  against  Sir  Charles  Metcalfe  was 
that  he  had  ventured  to  appoint  on  his  per- 
sonal staff  a  Canadian  gentleman  bearing  the 
distinguished  name  of  deSalaberry,  who  hap- 
pened to  be  distasteful  to  LaFontaine.  In 
our  day,  of  course,  no  minister  could  dream 
of  interfering,  even  by  way  of  suggestion, 
with  a  governor-general  in  the  selection  of 
his  staff.  In  1844,  when  the  crisis  came,  and 
Metcalfe  appealed  to  the  people  of  Canada 
to  sustain  him,  Macdonald  sought  election 
to  the  Assembly  from  Kingston.  It  was 
his  '  firm  belief/  he  announced  at  the  time, 
'  that  the  prosperity  of  Canada  depends  upon 
its  permanent  connection  with  the  mother 
country  ' ;  and  he  was  determined  to  '  resist 
to  the  utmost  any  attempt  (from  whatever 
quarter  it  may  come)  which  may  tend  to 

D.J.M.  B 


weaken  that  union.'  He  was  elected  by  a 
large  majority. 

In  the  same  year,  the  year  in  which  Mac- 
donald  was  first  elected  to  parliament,  another 
young  Scotsman,  likewise  to  attain  great 
prominence  in  the  country,  made  his  debut 
upon  the  Canadian  stage.  On  March  5,  1844, 
the  Toronto  Globe  began  its  long  and  successful 
career  under  the  guidance  of  George  Brown, 
an  active  and  vigorous  youth  of  twenty-five, 
who  at  once  threw  himself  with  great  energy 
and  conspicuous  ability  into  the  political  con- 
test that  raged  round  the  figure  of  the  governor- 
general.  Brown's  qualities  were  such  as  to 
bring  him  to  the  front  in  any  labour  in  which 
he  might  engage.  Ere  long  he  became  one  of 
the  leaders  of  the  Reform  party,  a  position 
which  he  maintained  down  to  the  date  of  his 
untimely  death  at  the  hands  of  an  assassin  in 
1880.  Brown  did  not,  however,  enter  parlia- 
ment for  some  years  after  the  period  we  are 
here  considering. 

The  Conservative  party  issued  from  the 
general  elections  of  1844  with  a  bare  majority 
in  the  House,  which  seldom  exceeded  six  and 
sometimes  sank  to  two  or  three.  Early  in  that 
year  the  seat  of  government  had  been  re- 
moved from  Kingston  to  Montreal.  The  first 

YOUTH  19 

session  of  the  new  parliament — the  parliament 
in  which  Macdonald  had  his  first  seat — was 
held  in  the  old  Legislative  Building  which 
occupied  what  was  afterwards  the  site  of  St 
Anne's  Market.  In  those  days  the  residential 
quarter  was  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Dalhousie 
Square,  the  old  Donegana  Hotel  on  Notre 
Dame  Street  being  the  principal  hostelry  in 
the  city.  There  it  was  that  the  party  chiefs 
were  wont  to  forgather.  That  Macdonald 
speedily  attained  a  leading  position  in  the 
councils  of  his  party  is  apparent  from  the  fact 
that  he  had  not  been  two  years  and  a  half 
in  parliament  when  the  prime  minister,  the 
Hon.  W.  H.  Draper,  wrote  him  (March  4, 
1847)  requesting  his  presence  in  Montreal. 
Two  months  later  Macdonald  was  offered  and 
accepted  a  seat  in  the  Cabinet. 

Almost  immediately  after  Macdonald's 
admission  to  the  Cabinet,  Draper  retired  to 
the  bench.  He  was  succeeded  by  Henry 
Sherwood,  a  scion  of  the  '  Family  Compact/ 
whose  term  of  office  was  brief.  The  elections 
came  on  during  the  latter  part  of  December, 
and,  as  was  very  generally  expected,*  the 

*  *  In  '47  I  was  a  member  of  the  Canadian  Government,  and 
we  went  to  a  general  election  knowing  well  that  we  should  be 
defeated'  (Sir  John  A.  Macdonald  to  the  Hon.  P.  C.  Hill,  dated 
Ottawa,  October  7, 1867). 


Sherwood  Administration  went  down  to  defeat. 
In  Lower  Canada  the  Government  did  not 
carry  a  single  French-Canadian  constituency, 
and  in  Upper  Canada  they  failed  of  a  majority, 
taking  only  twenty  seats  out  of  forty-two. 
In  accordance  with  the  more  decorous  practice 
of  those  days,  the  Ministry,  instead  of  accept- 
ing their  defeat  at  the  hands  of  the  press,  met 
parliament  like  men,  and  awaited  the  vote  of 
want  of  confidence  from  the  people's  repre- 
sentatives. This  was  not  long  in  coming ; 
whereupon  they  resigned,  and  the  Reform 
leaders  Baldwin  and  LaFontaine  reigned  in 
their  stead. 

The  events  of  the  next  few  years  afford  a 
striking  example  of  the  mutability  of  political 
life.  Though  this  second  Baldwin-LaFon- 
taine  Administration  was  elected  to  power  by 
a  large  majority — though  it  commanded  more 
than  five  votes  in  the  Assembly  to  every  two 
of  the  Opposition  —  yet  within  three  years 
both  leaders  had  withdrawn  from  public  life, 
and  Baldwin  himself  had  sustained  a  personal 
defeat  at  the  polls.  The  Liberal  Government, 
reconstituted  under  Sir  Francis  Hincks,  man- 
aged to  retain  office  for  three  years  more  ;  but 
it  was  crippled  throughout  its  whole  term  by 
the  most  bitter  internecine  feuds,  and  it  fell 

YOUTH  21 

at  length  before  the  assaults  of  those  who  had 
been  elected  to  support  it.  The  measure 
responsible  more  than  any  other  for  the 
excited  and  bitter  feeling  which  prevailed 
was  the  Rebellion  Losses  Bill.  There  is 
reason  to  believe  that  the  members  of  the 
Government,  or  at  any  rate  the  Upper- 
Canadian  ministers,  were  not  at  any  time 
united  in  their  support  of  the  Bill.  But  the 
French  vehemently  insisted  on  it,  and  the 
Ministry,  dependent  as  it  was  on  the  Lower- 
Canadian  vote  for  its  existence,  had  no  choice. 
The  Bill  provided,  as  the  title  indicates,  for 
compensation  out  of  the  public  treasury  to 
those  persons  in  Lower  Canada  who  had 
suffered  loss  of  property  during  the  rebellion. 
It  was  not  proposed  to  make  a  distinction 
between  loyalists  and  rebels,  further  than  by 
the  insertion  of  a  provision  that  no  person 
who  had  actually  been  convicted  of  treason, 
or  who  had  been  transported  to  Bermuda, 
should  share  in  the  indemnity.  Now,  a  large 
number  of  the  people  of  Lower  Canada  had 
been  more  or  less  concerned  in  the  rebellion, 
but  not  one-tenth  of  them  had  been  arrested, 
and  only  a  small  minority  of  those  arrested 
had  been  brought  to  trial.  It  is  therefore 
easy  to  see  that  the  proposal  was  calculated 


to  produce  a  bitter  feeling  among  those  who 
looked  upon  rebellion  as  the  most  grievous 
of  crimes.  It  was,  they  argued,  simply  putting 
a  premium  on  treason.  The  measure  was 
fiercely  resisted  by  the  Opposition,  and  called 
forth  a  lively  and  acrimonious  debate.  Among 
its  strongest  opponents  was  Macdonald.  Ac- 
cording to  his  custom,  he  listened  patiently  to 
the  arguments  for  and  against  the  measure, 
and  did  not  make  his  speech  until  towards 
the  close  of  the  debate. 

Despite  the  protests  of  the  Opposition,  the 
Bill  passed  its  third  reading  in  the  House  of 
Assembly  on  March  9,  1849,  by  a  vote  of 
forty-seven  to  eighteen.  Outside  the  walls 
of  parliament  the  clamour  grew  fiercer  every 
hour.  Meetings  were  held  all  over  Upper 
Canada  and  in  Montreal,  and  petitions  to 
Lord  Elgin,  the  governor-general,  poured  in 
thick  and  fast,  praying  that  the  obnoxious 
measure  might  not  become  law.  In  Toronto 
some  disturbances  took  place,  during  which 
the  houses  of  Baldwin,  Blake,  and  other 
prominent  Liberals  were  attacked,  and  the 
Reform  leaders  were  burned  in  effigy. 

The  Government,  which  all  along  seems  to 
have  underrated  public  feeling,  was  so  un- 
fortunate as  to  incur  the  suspicion  of  deliber- 

YOUTH  23 

ately  going  out  of  its  way  to  inflame  popular 
resentment.  It  was  considered  expedient,  for 
commercial  reasons,  to  bring  into  operation 
immediately  a  customs  law,  and  the  Ministry 
took  the  unwise  course  of  advising  the 
governor-general  to  assent  to  the  Rebellion 
Losses  Bill  at  the  same  time.  Accordingly, 
on  April  25,  Lord  Elgin  proceeded  to  the 
Parliament  Buildings  and  gave  the  royal 
assent  to  these  and  other  bills.  Not  a  sus- 
picion of  the  governor's  intention  had  got 
abroad  until  the  morning  of  the  eventful  day. 
His  action  was  looked  upon  as  a  defiance 
of  public  sentiment ;  the  popular  mind  was 
already  violently  excited,  and  consequences 
of  the  direst  kind  followed.  His  Excellency, 
when  returning  to  his  residence,  *  Monklands,' 
was  grossly  insulted,  his  carriage  was  almost 
shattered  by  stones,  and  he  himself  narrowly 
escaped  bodily  injury  at  the  hands  of  the 
infuriated  populace.  A  public  meeting  was 
held  that  evening  on  the  Champs  de  Mars, 
and  resolutions  were  adopted  praying  Her 
Majesty  to  recall  Lord  Elgin.  But  no  mere 
passing  of  resolutions  would  suffice  the  fiercer 
spirits  of  that  meeting.  The  cry  arose — '  To 
the  Parliament  Buildings !  '  and  soon  the 
lurid  flames  mounting  on  the  night  air  told 


the  horror-stricken  people  of  Montreal  that 
anarchy  was  in  their  midst.  The  whole  build- 
ing, including  the  legislative  libraries,  which 
contained  many  rare  and  priceless  records  of 
the  colony,  was  destroyed  in  a  few  minutes. 

This  abominable  outrage  called  for  the 
severest  censure,  not  merely  on  the  rioters, 
but  also  on  the  authorities,  who  took  few  steps 
to  avert  the  calamity.  An  eyewitness  stated 
that  half  a  dozen  men  could  have  extinguished 
the  fire,  which  owed  its  origin  to  lighted  balls 
of  paper  thrown  about  the  chamber  by  the 
rioters ;  but  there  does  not  seem  to  have 
been  even  a  policeman  on  the  ground.  Four 
days  afterwards  the  Government,  still  dis- 
regarding public  sentiment,  brought  the  gover- 
nor-general to  town  to  receive  an  address 
voted  to  him  by  the  Assembly.  The  occasion 
was  the  signal  for  another  disturbance.  Stones 
were  thrown  at  Lord  Elgin's  carriage  ;  and 
missiles  of  a  more  offensive  character  were 
directed  with  such  correctness  of  aim  that 
the  ubiquitous  reporter  of  the  day  described 
the  back  of  the  governor's  carriage  as  *  pre- 
senting an  awful  sight.'  Various  societies, 
notably  St  Andrew's  Society  of  Montreal, 
passed  resolutions  removing  Lord  Elgin  from 
the  presidency  or  patronage  of  their  organiza- 

YOUTH  25 

tions ;  some  of  them  formally  expelled  him. 
On  the  other  hand,  he  received  many  addresses 
from  various  parts  of  the  country  expressive 
of  confidence  and  esteem.  Sir  Allan  MacNab 
and  William  Cayley  repaired  to  England  to 
protest,  on  behalf  of  the  Opposition,  against 
the  governor's  course.  They  were  closely 
followed  by  Francis  Hincks,  representing  the 
Government.  The  matter  duly  came  up  in 
the  Imperial  parliament.  In  the  House  of 
Commons  the  Bill  was  vigorously  attacked 
by  Gladstone,  who  shared  the  view  of  the 
Canadian  Opposition  that  it  was  a  measure 
for  the  rewarding  of  rebels.  It  was  defended  by 
Lord  John  Russell,  and  Lord  Elgin's  course  in 
following  the  advice  of  his  ministers  was  ulti- 
mately approved  by  the  home  government. 

As  in  many  another  case,  the  expectation 
proved  worse  than  the  reality.  The  com- 
mission appointed  by  the  Government  under 
the  Rebellion  Losses  Act  was  composed  of 
moderate  men,  who  had  the  wisdom  to  refuse 
compensation  to  many  claimants  on  the  ground 
of  their  having  been  implicated  in  the  re- 
bellion, although  never  convicted  by  any  court. 
Had  it  been  understood  that  the  restricted 
interpretation  which  the  commission  gave  the 
Bill  would  be  applied,  it  is  possible  that  this 


disgraceful  episode  in  the  history  of  Canada 
would  not  have  to  be  told. 

An  inevitable  consequence  of  this  lament- 
able occurrence  was  the  removal  of  the  seat  of 
government  from  Montreal.  The  Administra- 
tion felt  that,  in  view  of  what  had  taken 
place,  it  would  be  folly  to  expose  the  Govern- 
ment and  parliament  to  a  repetition  of  these 
outrages.  This  resolve  gave  rise  to  innumer- 
able jealousies  on  the  part  of  the  several  cities 
which  aspired  to  the  honour  of  having  the 
legislature  in  their  midst.  Macdonald  was 
early  on  the  look-out,  and,  at  the  conclusion  of 
his  speech  on  the  disturbances,  in  the  course  of 
which  he  severely  censured  the  Ministry  for 
its  neglect  to  take  ordinary  precautions  to 
avert  what  it  should  have  known  was  by  no 
means  an  unlikely  contingency,  he  moved  that 
the  seat  of  government  be  restored  to  Kings- 
ton— a  motion  which  was  defeated  by  a  large 
majority,  as  was  a  similar  proposal  in  favour 
of  Bytown  (Ottawa).  It  was  finally  deter- 
mined to  adopt-  the  ambulatory  system  of 
having  the  capital  alternately  at  Quebec  and 
Toronto,  a  system  which  prevailed  until  the 
removal  to  Ottawa  in  1865.* 

*  The  dates  of  the  first  meetings  of  the  Executive  Council, 
held  at  the  various  seats  of  government,  from  the  Union  in 

YOUTH  27 

The  historic  Annexation  manifesto  of  1849 
was  an  outcome  of  the  excitement  produced 
by  the  Rebellion  Losses  Act.  Several  hun- 
dreds of  the  leading  citizens  of  Montreal, 
despairing  of  the  future  of  a  country  which 
could  tolerate  such  legislation  as  they  had 
recently  witnessed,  affixed  their  names  to  a 
document  advocating  a  friendly  and  peace- 
able separation  from  British  connection  as  a 
prelude  to  union  with  the  United  States. 
Men  subsequently  known  as  Sir  John  Rose, 
Sir  John  Caldwell  Abbott,  Sir  Francis  Johnson, 
Sir  David  Macpherson,  together  with  such 
well-known  citizens  as  the  Redpaths,  the 
Molsons,  the  Torrances,  and  the  Workmans, 
were  among  the  number. 

Macdonald,  referring  in  later  years  to  this 
Annexation  manifesto,  observed  : 

Our  fellows  lost  their  heads.  I  was 
pressed  to  sign  it,  but  refused  and  advo- 
cated the  formation  of  the  British  America 
League  as  a  more  sensible  procedure. 
From  all  parts  of  Upper  Canada,  and  from 
.  the  British  section  of  Lower  Canada,  and 

1841  till  1867,  are  as  follows :  at  Kingston,  June  n,  1841 ;  at 
Montreal,  July  i,  1844;  at  Toronto,  November  13,  1849;  at 
Quebec,  October  22,  1851 ;  at  Toronto,  November  9,  1855 ; 
at  Quebec,  October  21,  1859;  at  Ottawa,  November  28,  1865. 


from  the  British  inhabitants  of  Montreal, 
representatives  were  chosen.  They  met 
at  Kingston  for  the  purpose  of  considering 
the  great  danger  to  which  the  constitution 
of  Canada  was  exposed.  A  safety-valve 
was  found.  Our  first  resolution  was  that 
we  were  resolved  to  maintain  inviolate 
the  connection  with  the  mother  country. 
The  second  proposition  was  that  the  true 
solution  of  the  difficulty  lay  in  the  con- 
federation of  all  the  provinces.  The  third 
resolution  was  that  we  should  attempt  to 
form  in  such  confederation,  or  in  Canada 
before  Confederation,  a  commercial  national 
policy.  The  effects  of  the  formation  of 
the  British  America  League  were  marvel- 
lous. Under  its  influence  the  annexation 
sentiment  disappeared,  the  feeling  of  irri- 
tation died  away,  and  the  principles  which 
were  laid  down  by  the  British  America 
League  in  1850  are  the  lines  on  which 
the  Conservative-Liberal  party  has  moved 
ever  since. 

The  carrying  of  the  Rebellion  Losses  Bill 
was  the  high-water  mark  of  the  LaFontaine- 
Baldwin  Administration.  In  the  following 
session  symptoms  of  disintegration  began  to 

YOUTH  29 

appear.  Grown  bold  by  success,  the  advanced 
section  of  the  Upper  -  Canadian  Radicals 
pressed  for  the  immediate  secularization  of 
the  Clergy  Reserves  *  by  a  process  scarcely 
distinguishable  from  confiscation.  To  this 
demand  the  Government  was  not  prepared 
to  agree,  and  in  consequence  there  was 
much  disaffection  in  the  Reform  ranks.  This 
had  its  counterpart  in  Lower  Canada,  where 
Louis  Joseph  Papineau  and  his  Parti  Rouge 
clamoured  for  various  impracticable  consti- 
tutional changes,  including  a  general  appli- 
cation of  the  elective  principle,  a  republican 
form  of  government,  and,  ultimately,  annexa- 
tion to  the  United  States. 

To  add  to  the  difficulties  of  the  situation, 
George  Brown,  in  the  columns  of  the  Globe, 
which  up  to  this  time  was  supposed  to  re- 
flect the  views  of  the  Government,  began  a 
furious  onslaught  against  Roman  Catholicism 
in  general  and  on  the  French  Canadians  in 
particular.  This  fatuous  course  could  not 
fail  to  prove  embarrassing  to  a  Ministry  which 
drew  its  main  support  from  Lower  Canada. 

*  That  is,  that  the  land  set  apart  by  the  Constitutional  Act  of 
1791  'for  the  support  and  maintenance  of  a  Protestant  Clergy,' 
amounting  to  one-seventh  of  all  the  lands  granted,  should  be 
taken  over  by  the  Government  and  thrown  open  for  settlement. 


It  was  the  time  of  the  '  Papal  Aggression '  in 
England.  Ant i- Catholicism  was  in  the  air, 
and  found  a  congenial  exponent  in  George 
Brown,  whose  vehement  and  intolerant  nature 
espoused  the  new  crusade  with  enthusiasm. 
It  is  difficult  for  any  one  living  in  our  day  to 
conceive  of  the  leading  organ  of  a  great 
political  party  writing  thus  of  a  people  who 
at  that  time  numbered  very  nearly  one-half 
the  population  of  Canada,  and  from  whose 
ranks  the  parliamentary  supporters  of  its 
own  political  party  were  largely  drawn  : 

It  would  give  us  great  pleasure  to  think 
that  the  French  Canadians  were  really 
hearty  coadjutors  of  the  Upper-Canadian 
Reformers,  but  all  the  indications  point 
the  other  way,  and  it  appears  hoping 
against  hope  to  anticipate  still ;  their  race, 
their  religion,  their  habits,  their  ignorance, 
are  all  against  it,  and  their  recent  con- 
duct is  in  harmony  with  these.* 

The  Ministry  could  not  be  expected  to  stand 
this  sort  of  thing  indefinitely.  They  were 

*  Globe,  1851.  For  further  instances  see  Globe,  February  9 
and  December  14,  1853 ;  February  9,  18,  22  and  November  5, 
1856 ;  August  7  and  December  23, 1857. 

YOUTH  31 

compelled  to  disavow  the  Globe,  and  so  to 
widen  the  breach  between  them  and  Brown. 

In  1851  Baldwin  and  LaFontaine  retired 
from  public  life.  A  new  Administration  was 
formed  from  the  same  party  under  the 
leadership  of  Hincks  and  Morin,  and  in  the 
general  elections  that  followed  George  Brown 
was  returned  to  parliament  for  Kent.  The 
new  Ministry,  however,  found  no  more  favour 
at  the  hands  of  Brown  than  did  its  prede- 
cessor. Nor  was  Brown  content  to  confine 
his  attacks  to  the  floor  of  the  House.  He 
wrote  and  published  in  the  Globe  a  series 
of  open  letters  addressed  to  Hincks,  charging 
him  with  having  paltered  away  his  Liberal 
principles  for  the  sake  of  French -Canadian 
support.  To  such  lengths  did  Brown  carry 
his  opposition,  that  in  the  general  elections  of 
1854  we  find  him,  together  with  the  extreme 
Liberals,  known  as  Rouges,  in  Lower  Canada, 
openly  supporting  the  Conservative  leaders 
against  the  Government. 

While  Brown  was  thus  helping  on  the 
disruption  of  his  party,  his  future  great  rival, 
by  a  very  different  line  of  conduct,  was  laying 
broad  and  deep  the  foundations  of  a  policy 
tending  to  ameliorate  the  racial  and  religious 
differences  unfortunately  existing  between 


Upper  and  Lower  Canada.*  To  a  man  of  Mac- 
donald's  large  and  generous  mind  the  fierce 
intolerance  of  Brown  must  have  been  in  itself 
most  distasteful.  At  the  same  time,  there  is 
no  doubt  that  George  Brown's  anti-Catholic, 
anti-French  crusade,  while  but  one  factor 
among  several  in  contributing  to  the  downfall 
of  the  Baldwin  and  Hincks  Governments, 
became  in  after  years,  when  directed  against 
successive  Liberal-Conservative  Administra- 
tions, the  most  formidable  obstacle  against 
which  Macdonald  had  to  contend. 

The  result  of  the  Globe's  propaganda 
amounted  to  this,  that  for  twenty  years  the 
Conservative  leader  found  himself  in  a  large 
minority  in  his  own  province  of  Upper  Canada, 
and  dependent  upon  Lower  Canada  for  support 
— truly  an  unsatisfactory  state  of  affairs  to 
himself  personally,  and  one  most  inimical  to 
the  welfare  of  the  country.  It  was  not 
pleasant  for  a  public  man  to  be  condemned, 
election  after  election,  to  fight  a  losing  battle 

*  *  To  all  Conservatives  who  cherish  the  memory  of  Sir  John 
Macdonald  we  bring  the  reminder  that  no  leader  ever  opposed 
so  sternly  the  attempt  to  divide  this  community  on  racial  or 
religious  lines'  (Globe,  November  10,  1900). 

The  Globe's  latter-day  estimate  of  Sir  John  Macdonald  recalls 
the  late  Tom  Reid's  definition  of  a  statesman— 'a  successful 
politician  who  is  dead.' 

YOUTH  33 

in  his  home  province,  where  he  was  best  known, 
and  to  be  obliged  to  carry  his  measures  by  the 
vote  of  his  allies  of  another  province.  It  is 
therefore  not  to  be  wondered  at  that  Sir  John 
Macdonald  in  his  reminiscent  moods  some- 
times alluded  to  these  days,  thus  : 

Had  I  but  consented  to  take  the  popular 
side  in  Upper  Canada,  I  could  have  ridden 
the  Protestant  horse  much  better  than 
George  Brown,  and  could  have  had  an  over- 
whelming majority.  But  I  willingly  sacri- 
ficed my  own  popularity  for  the  good  of 
the  country,  and  did  equal  justice  to  all 

Scattered  throughout  his  correspondence  are 
several  references  of  a  similar  tenor.  I  do 
not  believe,  however,  that  the  temptation 
ever  seriously  assailed  him.  Indeed,  we  find 
that  at  every  step  in  his  career,  when  the 
opportunity  presented  itself  for  showing 
sympathy  with  the  French  Canadians  in  their 
struggle  for  the  maintenance  of  their  just 
rights,  he  invariably  espoused  their  cause,  not 
then  a  popular  one.  At  the  union  of  Upper 
and  Lower  Canada  in  1841  there  seems  to  have 
been  a  general  disposition  to  hasten  the 

*  To  a  friend,  dated  Ottawa,  April  20,  1869. 
IKJ.M.  C 


absorption  of  the  French-Canadian  people, 
so  confidently  predicted  by  Lord  Durham. 
That  nobleman  declared  with  the  utmost 
frankness  that,  in  his  opinion,  the  French 
Canadians  were  destined  speedily  to  lose  their 
distinctive  nationality  by  becoming  merged 
in  the  Anglo-Saxon  communities  surrounding 
them,  and  he  conceived  that  nothing  would 
conduce  so  effectually  to  this  result  as  the 
union  of  Upper  and  Lower  Canada.  His  suc- 
cessor, Lord  Sydenham,  evidently  shared 
these  views  upon  the  subject,  for  his  Cabinet 
did  not  contain  a  single  French  Canadian. 
In  furtherance  of  this  policy  it  was  provided 
in  the  Union  Act  (1840)  that  all  the  proceed- 
ings of  parliament  should  be  printed  in  the 
English  language  only.  At  that  time  the 
French  Canadians  numbered  more  than  one- 
half  the  people  of  Canada,  and  the  great 
majority  of  them  knew  no  other  language  than 
French.  No  wonder  that  this  provision  was 
felt  by  them  to  be  a  hardship,  or  that  it  tended 
to  embitter  them  and  to  increase  their  hostility 
to  the  Union.  Macdonald  had  not  sat  in 
parliament  a  month  before  the  Government 
of  which  he  was  a  supporter  proposed  and 
carried  in  the  House  of  Assembly  a  resolution 
providing  for  the  removal  of  this  restriction. 

YOUTH  35 

During  the  ensuing  two  years  the  same  Govern- 
ment opened  negotiations  (which  came  to 
nothing  at  the  time)  with  certain  leaders 
among  the  French  Canadians  looking  towards 
political  co-operation,  and  similar  though 
equally  fruitless  overtures  were  made  to  them 
during  the  weeks  following  Macdonald's  ad- 
mission into  the  Draper  Cabinet.  This  policy 
Macdonald  had  deliberately  adopted  and 
carried  with  him  into  Opposition. 

In  a  letter  outlining  the  political  campaign 
of  1854,  he  says  in  so  many  words  : 

My  belief  is  that  there  must  be  a  material 
alteration  in  the  character  of  the  new 
House.  I  believe  also  that  there  must 
be  a  change  of  Ministry  after  the  election, 
and,  from  my  friendly  relations  with  the 
French,  I  am  inclined  to  believe  my  assist- 
ance would  be  sought.* 

Meanwhile  the  cleavage  in  the  Reform  ranks 
was  daily  becoming  wider.  Indeed,  as  has 
been  said,  the  Radical  section  of  the  Upper- 
Canadian  representation,  known  as  the  Clear 
Grit  party,  were  frequently  to  be  found  voting 
with  the  Conservative  Opposition,  with  whom 
they  had  nothing  in  common  save  dislike  and 

*  See  Pope's  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  vol.  i,  p.  103. 


distrust  of  the  Government.  The  result  of 
the  elections  of  1854  showed  that  no  one  of 
the  three  parties  —  the  Ministerialists,  the 
Opposition,  or  the  Clear  Grits  and  Lower- 
Canadian  Rouges  combined — had  an  inde- 
pendent majority.  Upon  one  point,  however, 
the  two  last-named  groups  were  equally 
determined,  namely,  the  defeat  of  the  Govern- 
ment. This  they  promptly  effected  by  a 
junction  of  forces.  The  leader  of  the  regular 
Opposition,  Sir  Allan  MacNab,  was  '  sent  for.' 
But  his  following  did  not  exceed  forty,  while 
the  defeated  party  numbered  fifty-five,  and 
the  extreme  Radicals  about  thirty-five.  It 
was  obvious  that  no  Ministry  could  be  formed 
exclusively  from  one  party ;  it  was  equally 
clear  that  the  government  of  the  country 
must  be  carried  on.  In  these  circumstances 
Sir  Allan  resolved  upon  trying  his  hand  at 
forming  a  new  Government.  He  first  offered 
Macdonald  the  attorney-generalship  for  Upper 
Canada,  and,  availing  himself  of  his  young 
ally's  *  friendly  relations  with  the  French,' 
entered  into  negotiations  with  A.  N.  Morin, 
the  leader  of  the  Lower- Canadian  wing  of  the 
late  Cabinet.  Morin  consented  to  serve  in 
the  new  Ministry.  The  followers  of  MacNab 
and  Morin  together  formed  a  majority  of  the 


From  a  portrait  in  the  John  Ross  Robertson  Collection, 
Toronto  Public  Library 

YOUTH  37 

House.  The  French  leader,  however,  was 
most  anxious  that  his  late  allies  in  Upper 
Canada — Sir  Francis  Hincks  and  his  friends — 
should  be  parties  to  the  coalition.  Hincks, 
while  not  seeing  his  way  to  join  the  new 
Administration,  expressed  his  approval  of 
the  arrangements,  and  promised  his  support 
on  the  understanding  that  two  of  his  political 
friends  from  Upper  Canada  should  have  Seats 
in  the  new  Government.  This  proposal  was 
accepted  by  MacNab,  and  John  Ross  (son-in- 
law  of  Baldwin)  and  Thomas  Spence  were 
chosen.  The  basis  of  the  coalition  was  an 
agreement  to  carry  out  the  principal  measures 
foreshadowed  in  the  speech  from  the  throne — 
including  the  abolition  of  the  Seigneurial 
Tenure  *  and  the  secularization  of  the  Clergy 

Such  was  the  beginning  of  the  great  Liberal- 
Conservative  party  which  almost  constantly 
from  1854  to  1896  controlled  the  destinies  of 
Canada.  Its  history  has  singularly  borne  out 
the  contention  of  its  founders,  that  in  uniting 
as  they  did  at  a  time  when  their  co-operation 
was  essential  to  the  conduct  of  affairs,  they 

*  The  seigneurial  system  was  a  survival  of  the  French 
regime.  The  reader  is  referred  to  The  Seigneurs  of  Old  Canada 
by  Professor  Munro  in  the  present  Series. 


acted  in  the  best  interests  of  the  country. 
For  a  long  time  there  had  not  been  any  real 
sympathy  between  the  French  Liberal  leaders, 
LaFontaine  and  Morin,  and  the  Liberals  of 
Upper  Canada.  After  the  echoes  of  the 
rebellion  had  died  away  these  French  Liberals 
became  in  reality  the  Conservatives  of  Lower 
Canada.  The  Globe  repeatedly  declared  this. 
Their  junction  with  MacNab  and  Macdonald 
was  therefore  a  fusion  rather  than  a  coali- 
tion. The  latter  word  more  correctly  describes 
the  union  between  the  Conservatives  and 
the  Moderate  Reformers  of  Upper  Canada. 
It  was,  however,  a  coalition  abundantly  justi- 
fied by  circumstances.  The  principal  charge 
brought  against  the  Conservative  party  at 
the  time  was  that  in  pledging  themselves  to 
secularize  the  Clergy  Reserves  they  were 
guilty  of  an  abandonment  of  principle.  But 
in  1854  this  had  ceased  to  be  a  party  question. 
The  progress  of  events  had  rendered  it  in- 
evitable that  these  lands  should  be  made 
available  for  settlement ;  and  since  this  had 
to  come,  it  was  better  that  the  change  should 
be  brought  about  by  men  who  had  already 
striven  to  preserve  the  rights  of  property 
acquired  under  the  Clergy  Reserve  grants, 
rather  than  by  those  whose  policy  was  little 



short  of  spoliation.  The  propriety  and  reason- 
ableness of  all  this  was  very  generally  recog- 
nized at  the  time,  not  merely  by  the  sup- 
porters of  MacNab  and  Macdonald,  but  also 
by  their  political  opponents.  A.  A.  Dorion, 
the  Rouge  leader,  considered  the  alliance 
quite  natural.  Robert  Baldwin  and  Francis 
Hincks  both  publicly  defended  it,  and  their 
course  did  much  to  cement  the  union  between 
the  Conservatives  and  those  who,  forty  years 
after  the  events  here  set  down,  were  known 
to  the  older  members  of  the  community  as 
*  Baldwin  Reformers.' 



THE  Liberal- Conservative  Government  formed 
in  1854  was  destined  to  a  long  and  successful 
career,  though  not  without  the  usual  inevitable 
changes.  Very  shortly  after  its  accession  to 
power,  Lord  Elgin,  whose  term  of  office  had 
expired,  was- succeeded  by  Sir  Edmund  Head. 
The  new  governor-general  was  a  man  of  rare 
scholastic  attainments.  During  the  previous 
seven  years  he  had  occupied  the  position  of 
lieutenant-governor  of  New  Brunswick,  and 
he  was  to  administer,  for  a  like  period,  the 
public  affairs  of  Canada  acceptably  and  well. 
One  thing,  however,  greatly  interfered  with 
his  popularity  and  lessened  his  usefulness. 
A  story  was  spread  abroad  that  Sir  Edmund 
Head  had  called  the  French  Canadians  '  an 
inferior  race/  This,  though  it  was  not  true, 
was  often  reiterated  ;  and  the  French  Cana- 
dians persisted  in  believing  that  Sir  Edmund 
had  made  the  remark— even  after  an  explana- 
tion of  what  he  really  did  say. 



Early  in  1855  Morin  retired  to  the  bench. 
His  place  in  the  Cabinet  was  filled  by  George 
Etienne  Cartier,  member  for  Vercheres  in  the 
Assembly.  Cartier  had  begun  his  political 
career  in  1848  as  a  supporter  of  LaFontaine, 
but  he  was  one  of  those  who  followed  Morin 
in  his  alliance  with  the  Conservatives.  Now, 
on  the  withdrawal  of  his  chief,  he  succeeded, 
in  effect,  to  the  leadership  of  the  French- 
Canadian  wing  of  the  Government.  The 
corresponding  position  from  the  English  pro- 
vince was  held  by  John  A.  Maedonald,  for  it 
was  no  secret  at  the  time  that  Sir  Allan  Mac- 
Nab,  the  titular  leader,  had  seen  his  best 
days,  and  leaned  heavily  upon  his  friend  the 
attorney-general  for  Upper  Canada. 

Under  these  circumstances  were  brought 
together  the  two  men  who  for  the  ensuing 
eighteen  years  governed  the  country  almost 
without  intermission.  During  the  whole  of 
this  long  period  they  were,  with  but  one 
trivial  misunderstanding,  intimate  personal 
friends.  That  Sir  John  Maedonald  enter- 
tained the  warmest  feelings  of  unbroken 
regard  for  his  colleague,  I  know,  for  he  told 
me  so  many  times ;  and  Carrier's  correspond- 
ence plainly  indicates  that  these  sentiments 
were  fully  reciprocated. 


Sir  George  Cartier  was  a  man  who  devoted 
his  whole  life  to  the  public  service  of  his 
country.  He  was  truthful,  honest,  and  sin- 
cere, and  commanded  the  respect  and  confi- 
dence of  all  with  whom  he  came  in  contact. 
Had  it  not  been  for  Sir  George  Cartier,  it  is 
doubtful  whether  the  Dominion  of  Canada 
would  exist  to-day.  He  it  was  who  faced 
at  its  inception  the  not  unnatural  French- 
Canadian  distrust  of  the  measure.  It  was 
his  magnificent  courage  and  resistless  energy 
which  triumphed  over  all  opposition.  Con- 
federation was  not  the  work  of  any  one  person. 
Macdonald,  Brown,  Tupper — each  played  his 
indispensable  part ;  but  assuredly  not  the 
least  important  share  in  the  accomplishment 
of  that  great  undertaking  is  to  be  ascribed  to 
George  Etienne  Cartier. 

Other  public  men  of  the  period  claim  our 
brief  attention.  Sir  Allan  MacNab,  the  leader 
of  the -Conservative  party,  had  had  a  long 
and  diversified  experience.  He  was  born  at 
Niagara  in  1798,  and  at  an  early  age  took  up 
the  profession  of  arms.  When  the  Americans 
attacked  Toronto  in  1813,  Allan  MacNab, 
then  a  boy  at  school,  was  one  of  a  number 
selected  to  carry  a  musket.  He  afterwards 
entered  the  Navy  and  was  rated  as  a  midship- 

From  the  John  Ross  Robertson  Collection,  Toronto  Public  Library 


man  on  board  Sir  James  Yeo's  ship  on  the 
Great  Lakes.  MacNab  subsequently  joined 
the  looth  Regiment  under  Colonel  Murray, 
and  was  engaged  in  the  storming  of  Niagara. 
He  was  a  member  and  speaker  of  the  old  House 
of  Assembly  of  Upper  Canada,  and  in  1841 
was  elected  to  the  first  parliament  under  the 
new  Union.  For  sixteen  years  he  continued 
to  represent  Hamilton,  serving  during  a 
portion  of  the  time  as  speaker  of  the  Assembly. 
In  1860  he  was  elected  a  member  of  the 
Legislative  Council,  and  was  chosen  speaker 
of  that  body  a  few  months  prior  to  his  death 
in  1862.  In  1854,  as  we  have  seen,  he  was 
called  upon,  as  the  recognized  leader  of  the  Op- 
position, to  form  the  new  Ministry.  He  thus 
became  prime  minister,  an  event  that  caused 
some  grumbling  on  the  part  of  younger  spirits 
who  thought  Sir  Allan  rather  a  *  back  num- 
ber.' It  has  been  charged  against  Sir  John 
Macdonald  that  he  at  the  time  intrigued  to 
accomplish  his  old  chief's  overthrow,  but  there 
is  not  a  particle  of  truth  in  the  statement. 
When  forming  his  plans  for  the  general  elec- 
tions of  1854,  Macdonald  thus  wrote  : 

You  say  truly  that  we  are  a  good  deal 
hampered    with    '  old    blood.'     Sir    Allan 


will  not  be  in  our  way,  however.  He  is 
very  reasonable,  and  requires  only  that  we 
should  not  in  his  '  sere  and  yellow  leaf  ' 
offer  him  the  indignity  of  casting  him 
aside.  This  I  would  never  assent  to,  for 
.  I  cannot  forget  his  services  in  days  gone 

Sir  Allan  was  a  Tory  of  the  '  Family  Compact ' 
school,  which  with  changed  conditions  was 
fast  becoming  an  anachronism.  He  was  at 
the  same  time  a  loyal  and  faithful  public 

MacNab  retired  from  the  premiership  in 
1856  and  was'  succeeded  by  Colonel  (after- 
wards Sir)  Etienne  Tache,  who  had  held 
Cabinet  office  continuously  since  1848.  Tache 
was  a  more  moderate  man  than  Sir  Allan, 
without  his  ambition  or  intractability ;  but 
he  does  not  appear  to  have  been  distinguished 
by  any  particular  aptitude  for  public  life, 
and  the  prominence  he  attained  was  in  large 
measure  the  result  of  circumstance.  He  was, 
however,  generally  regarded  as  a  safe  man 
with  no*  private  interests  to  serve,  and  he  was 
quite  content  to  allow  Macdonald  and  Cartier 
a  free  hand  in  the  direction  of  public  affairs. 

*  See  Pope's  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  vol.  i,  p.  103. 


Under  their  united  guidance  much  was  ac- 
complished. During  the  first  session  after 
the  formation  of  the  Liberal  -  Conservative 
party  the  two  great  questions  which  had  long 
distracted  the  united  province  of  Canada — 
the  Clergy  Reserves  and  the  Seigneurial 
Tenure — were  settled  on  terms  which  were 
accounted  satisfactory  by  all  moderate  and 
reasonable  men.  Both  the  measures  which 
the  Government  introduced  to  adjust  these 
matters  were  opposed  at  every  stage  by 
Brown,  Dorion,  and  other  professed  champions 
of  the  popular  will.*  Brown,  who  had  never 
forgotten  the  failure  of  the  Conservative 
leaders  to  open  negotiations  with  him  on  the 
defeat  of  the  Hincks  Government,  vented  his 
wrath  alternately  on  the  new  Ministry  and 
on  the  Roman  Catholic  Church,  assailing 
both  with  amazing  violence.  Despite  this 
unrestrained  vehemence,  impulsiveness,  and 
lack  of  discretion,  George  Brown's  great 
ability  and  intellectual  power  made  him  a  for- 
midable opponent,  as  the  ministers  learned 
to  their  cost. 

*"  Dorion  voted  for  the  third  reading;  of  the  Seigneurial  Tenure 
Bill  and  against  that  relating  to  the  Clergy  Reserves.  Brown 
voted  against  the  third  reading  of  both  measures,  and  the  Clear 
Grits  and  Rouges  as  a  body  did  all  in  their  power  to  impede  the 
passage  of  both  bills. 


Meanwhile,  as  the  different  groups  settled 
into  their  places,  political  parties  in  the 
legislature  became  more  clearly  defined.  The 
French- Canadian  ministerialists  soon  ceased 
to  be  regarded  as  anything  but  Conservatives ; 
and  while  many  of  the  Upper-Canadian  sup- 
porters of  the  Government  long  continued  to 
be  known  as  '  Baldwin  Reformers,'  the  line  of 
separation  between  them  and  their  Conserva- 
tive allies  grew  fainter  every  day.  It  was 
inevitable  that  this  should  be  so.  Baldwin 
himself  had  disappeared.  Hincks  had  left  the 
country.  John  Ross,  the  leading  member  of 
the  Liberal  wing  of  the  coalition,  had  resigned 
from  the  Cabinet.  So  it  came  to  pass,  after 
the  withdrawal  of  Sir  Allan  MacNab,  that 
many  quondam  Liberals  grew  to  realize  that 
there  was  no  longer  any  reason  why  they 
should  not  unite  under  the  leadership  of  the 
man  who  inspired  equally  the  confidence  and 
the  regard  of  the  whole  party. 

All  this  was  gall  and  wormwood  to  Brown, 
who  pursued  Macdonald  with  a  malignity 
which  has  no  parallel  in  our  happier  times. 
Nor,  it  must  be  confessed,  did  Macdonald  fail 
to  retort.  Though  not  a  resentful  person, 
nor  one  who  could  not  control  his  feelings, 
he  never  disguised  his  personal  antipathy 


towards  the  man  who  had  persistently  and  for 
many  years  misrepresented  and  traduced  him. 
On  one  occasion  Macdonald  was  moved  to 
bring  certain  accusations  against  Brown's 
personal  character.  These,  however,  he  failed 
to  establish  to  the  satisfaction  of  the  special 
committee  of  parliament  appointed  to  try 
the  charge.  This  was  the  only  time,  as  far 
as  I  know,  when  Brown  got  the  better  of  his 

While  the  Liberal-Conservative  forces  were 
being  consolidated  under  Macdonald  and 
Cartier,  a  similar  process  was  taking  place  in 
the  Reform  ranks  under  Dorion  and  Brown. 
Dorion  was  a  distinguished  member  of  the 
Montreal  bar  and  a  courtly  and  polished 
gentleman  of  unblemished  reputation.  He 
had  become  the  leading  member  of  the  Parti 
Rouge  on  Papineau's  retirement  in  1854,  and 
was  now  the  chief  of  the  few  French  Radicals 
in  the  Assembly.  In  like  manner  Brown 
assumed  the  leadership  of  the  Clear  Grits,  the 
Radicals  of  Upper  Canada. 

While  the  politicians  were  thus  busy, 
Canada  continued  to  develop,  if  not  at  the 
rate  to  which  we  are  accustomed  in  these  later 
days,  still  at  a  fair  pace.  In  1851  the  popula- 
tion of  Upper  Canada  had  been  952,000  and 


that  of  Lower  Canada  890,000.  Of  the  cities 
Montreal  boasted  58,000,  Quebec  42,000, 
Toronto  31,000,  and  Kingston  12,000.  By 
1 86 1  these  figures  had  grown  to  1,396,000  for 
Upper  Canada,  i, 111,000  for  Lower  Canada, 
and  the  cities  had  correspondingly  increased. 
Montreal  had  now  90,000  people,  Quebec 
51,000,  Toronto  45,000,  and  Kingston  14,000. 
The  total  revenue  of  Canada  in  1855  amounted 
to  $4,870,000,  not  half  that  of  the  single 
province  of  Ontario  to-day,  and  the  expendi- 
ture to  $4,780,000. 

Much  had  already  been  spent  on  the  im- 
provement of  inland  navigation,  and  the  early 
fifties  saw  the  beginning  of  a  great  advance 
in  railway  construction.  The  Intercolonial 
Railway  to  connect  the  Maritime  Provinces 
with  Canada  was  projected  as  early  as  in  1846, 
though  inability  to  agree  upon  the  route 
delayed  construction  many  years.  In  1853 
the  Grand  Trunk  was  opened  from  Montreal 
to  Portland  in  Maine.  The  Great  Western 
(now  a  portion  of  the  Grand  Trunk  system), 
running  between  the  Niagara  and  Detroit 
rivers,  was  opened  during  the  following  year  ; 
and  1855  witnessed  the  completion  of  the 
Grand  Trunk  from  Montreal  to  Brockville, 
and  the  Great  Western  from  Toronto  to 


Hamilton.  The  Detroit  river  at  that  time 
marked  the  western  limit  of  settlement  in 
Canada.  North  and  west  stretched  a  vast 
lone  land  about  which  scarcely  anything  was 
known.  The  spirit  of  enterprise,  however, 
was  stirring.  The  expiry  of  certain  trading 
privileges  granted  to  the  Hudson's  Bay  Com- 
pany in  1838  offered  the  occasion  for  an  in- 
quiry by  a  committee  of  the  Imperial  House 
of  Commons  into  the  claims  of  the  company 
to  the  immense  region  associated  with  its 
name.  The  Canadian  Government  accepted 
an  invitation  to  be  represented  at  this  in- 
vestigation, and  in  the  early  part  of  the  year 
1857  dispatched  to  England  Chief  Justice 
Draper  as  commissioner.  The  committee, 
which  included  such  eminent  persons  as  Lord 
John  Russell,  Lord  Derby,  and  Mr  Gladstone, 
reported  to  the  effect  that  terms  should  be 
agreed  upon  between  the  company  and  the 
Imperial  and  Canadian  governments,  in  order 
that  the  territory  might  be  made  available 
for  settlement ;  but  no  further  steps  were 
then  taken.  The  question  was  not  to  be 
settled  until  some  years  later. 

About  the  same  time  certain  adventurous 
spirits  approached  the  Canadian  Government 
with  a  suggestion  to  build  a  railway  across 

D.J.M.  D 


the  prairies  and  through  the  Rocky  mountains 
to  the  Pacific  ocean.  From  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald's  papers  it  appears  that  a  proposal 
of  this  nature  was  made  to  him  in  the  early 
part  of  1858.  There  is  a  letter  addressed  to 
Macdonald,  dated  at  Kingston  in  January  of 
that  year,  and  signed  'Walter  R.  Jones.'  In 
the  light  of  subsequent  events  this  letter  is 
interesting.  The  writer  suggests  that  the 
time  has  arrived  to  organize  a  company  to 
build  a  railway  '  through  British  American 
territory  to  the  Pacific.'  It  would  be  some 
years,  of  course,  before  such  a  company  could 
actually  begin  the  work  of  construction ; 
therefore  action  should  begin  at  once.  No- 
thing will  be  gained  by  delay,  the  writer 
points  out ;  and  if  Canada  does  not  seize  the 
golden  opportunity,  it  is  probable  that  the 
United  States  will  be  first  in  the  field  with 
such  a  railway,  '  as  they  are  fully  alive  to  the 
great  benefit  it  would  be  to  them,  not  only 
locally,  but  as  a  highway  from  Europe  to 
China,  India,  and  Australia/  This  would 
greatly  lessen  the  value  of  a  Canadian  and 
British  railway,  and  would  cause  the  enter- 
prise to  '  be  delayed  or  entirely  abandoned/ 
Thus  Canada  would  lose,  not  only  the  through 
traffic  and  business  of  the  railway,  but  also  the 


opportunity  to  open  up  the  Great  West  to 
settlers,  '  which  of  itself  would  be  a  great  boon 
to  Canada/ 

The  letter  proceeds  to  say  that,  as  the  claims 
of  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company  to  the  lands  of 
the  West  are  shortly  to  be  extinguished,  the 
railway  company  could  secure  the  grant  of  a 
harbour  on  Vancouver  Island  and  the  privilege 
of  '  working  the  coal  mines  there  '  ;  also,  '  a 
grant  of  land  along  the  proposed  line  of  rail- 
way.' A  subsidy  should  be  obtained  from  the 
Imperial  Government  for  '  a  line  of  steamers 
from  Vancouver  Island  to  China,  India,  and 
Australia.'  If  the  Canadian  people  would 
take  up  the  matter  with  spirit  and  buy  largely 
of  the  stock,  and  if  the  subject  were  laid  before 
the  merchants  of  London,  '  there  would  be  no 
difficulty  in  raising  the  required  capital,  say 
£15,000,000.'  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the 
line  would  pay.  Any  one  looking  at  a  map 
of  the  world  can  see  that  it  would  afford  the 
shortest  route  between  Europe  and  the  East. 
The  writer  thinks  that  it  would  be  well  to 
start  the  nucleus  of  a  company  immediately 
so  as  to  apply  for  a  charter  at  the  next  session 
of  the  Canadian  parliament.  *  Of  course,'  he 
adds,  '  in  my  humble  circumstances  it  would 
be  the  height  of  folly  to  think  of  attempting 


to  organize  or  connect  myself  with  such  a  vast 
undertaking  unless  I  could  get  the  coun- 
tenance and  support  of  some  one  in  high 
standing/  Macdonald,  however,  deemed  the 
proposal  premature  until  the  claims  of  the 
Hudson's  Bay  Company  were  disposed  of. 
He  was  destined  to  carry  it  out  many  years 

The  question  as  to  the  seat  of  government 
proved  in  those  days  extremely  troublesome, 
promising  to  vie  with  the  now  happily  re- 
moved Clergy  Reserves  question,  in  frequently 
recurring  to  cause  difficulty.  The  incon- 
venience of  the  ambulatory  system  under 
which  the  legislature  sat  alternately  four  years 
at  Quebec  and  four  years  at  Toronto  was  ac- 
knowledged by  everybody,  but  it  seemed 
impossible  to  agree  upon  any  one  place  for 
the  capital.  Quebec,  Montreal,  Toronto,  and 
Kingston  all  aspired  to  the  honour,  and  the 
sectional  jealousies  among  the  supporters  of 
the  Ministry  afforded  periodical  opportunities 
to  the  Opposition,  of  which  they  did  not  fail 
to  take  advantage.  One  ministerial  crisis 
arising  out  of  this  dispute  acquired  exceptional 
prominence  by  reason  of  the  fact  that  it  led 
to  what  is  known  in  Canadian  history  as  the 
'  Double  Shuffle.' 


In  the  session  of  1857  *ne  Ministry  proposed 
to  submit  the  question  to  the  personal  decision 
of  the  queen,  and  introduced  resolutions  in  the 
Assembly  praying  that  Her  Majesty  would  be 
graciously  pleased  to  exercise  the  royal  pre- 
rogative by  the  selection  of  some  one  place  as 
the  permanent  capital  of  Canada.  This  re- 
ference to  Her  Majesty  was  fiercely  opposed 
by  the  Clear  Grits  as  being  a  tacit  acknow- 
ledgment of  Canada's  unfitness  to  exercise 
that  responsible  government  for  which  she 
had  contended  so  long.  The  Globe,  in  a  series 
of  articles,  denounced  the  '  very  idea  as  de- 
gradation.' The  motion  was  nevertheless 
carried  by  a  substantial  majority,  and  the 
address  went  home  accordingly. 

The  harvest  of  1857  proved  a  failure,  and 
in  the  autumn  of  that  year  Canada  passed 
through  one  of  the  most  severe  periods  of 
financial  depression  with  which  she  has  ever 
been  afflicted.  The  period  between  1854 
and  1856  saw  great  commercial  activity. 
Vast  sums  of  money  had  been  spent  in  con- 
structing railways.  This  outlay,  three  bounti- 
ful harvests,  and  the  abnormally  high  prices 
of  farm  products  caused  by  the  Crimean 
War,  combined  to  make  a  period  of  almost 
unexampled  prosperity— a  prosperity  more 


apparent  than  real.  The  usual  reaction  fol- 
lowed. Peace  in  Europe,  coinciding  with  a  bad 
harvest  in  Canada,  produced  the  inevitable 
result.  Every  class  and  interest  felt  the 
strain.  Nor  did  the  Ministry  escape.  It  was 
at  this  gloomy  period  that  Colonel  Tache, 
weary  of  office,  relinquished  the  cares  of  state, 
and  Macdonald  became  first  minister.  Two 
days  after  the  new  Ministry  had  taken  office 
parliament  was  dissolved  and  writs  were  issued 
for  a  general  election.  The  main  issues  in 
this  contest,  both  forced  by  George  Brown, 
were  '  Representation  by  Population '  and 
'  Non  -  sectarian  Schools  '  —  otherwise  No 
Popery.  These  cries  told  with  much  effect 
in  Upper  Canada.  '  Rep.  by  Pop./  as  it  was 
familiarly  called,  had  long  been  a  favourite 
policy  with  Brown  and  the  Globe.  By  the 
Union  Act  of  1840  the  representation  of 
Upper  and  Lower  Canada  in  the  Assembly 
was  fixed  at  eighty-four,  forty-two  from  each 
province.  At  that  time  Lower  Canada  had 
the  advantage  of  population,  and  consequently 
a  smaller  representation  than  that  to  which 
it  would  have  been  entitled  on  the  basis  of 
numbers.  But  the  French  Canadians  were 
content  to  abide  by  the  compact,  and  on  that 
score  there  was  peace.  As  soon,  however,  as 


the  influx  of  settlers  into  Upper  Canada 
turned  the  scale,  the  Globe  began  to  agitate 
for  a  revision  of  the  agreement.  In  the  session 
of  1853  Brown  condemned  the  system  of 
equal  representation,  and  moved  that  the 
representation  of  the  people  in  parliament 
should  be  based  upon  population,  without 
regard  to  any  line  of  separation  between  Upper 
and  Lower  Canada.  On  this  he  was  defeated, 
but  with  rare  pertinacity  he  stuck  to  his  guns, 
and  urged  his  views  upon  the  Assembly  at 
every  opportune  and  inopportune  moment. 
The  Macdonald-Cartier  Government  opposed 
the  principle  of  representation  by  population 
because  it  was  not  in  accord  with  the  Union 
Act.  That  Act  was  a  distinct  bargain  be- 
tween Upper  Canada  and  Lower  Canada,  and 
could  not  be  altered  without  the  consent  of 
both.  On  the  school  question  Macdonald 
took  the  ground  that  the  clause  granting 
separate  schools  to  Roman  Catholics  was  in 
the  Common  School  Act  long  before  he  became 
a  member  of  the  government — having  been 
placed  there  by  Robert  Baldwin — and  that 
it  would  be  unfair  and  unjust  arbitrarily  to 
take  the  privilege  away.  Moreover,  he  argued, 
on  the  authority  of  Egerton  Ryerson,  a  Pro- 
testant clergyman  and  superintendent  of 


schools  for  Upper  Canada,  that  the  offending 
clause  injured  nobody,  but,  on  the  contrary, 
'  widens  the  basis  of  the  common  school 

This  might  be  good  logic,  and  inherently 
fair  and  just.  All  the  same,  the  Globe  con- 
ducted its  campaign  with  such  telling  effect 
that  three  ministers  lost  their  seats  in  the 
general  elections  of  1857,  and  the  Clear  Grits 
came  out  of  the  campaign  in  Upper  Canada 
with  a  majority  of  six  or  eight. 

In  Lower  Canada  there  was  a  different 
result.  The  appeals  to  sectional  and  religious 
prejudice,  which  wrought  havoc  in  the  ranks 
of  the  ministerial  supporters  in  the  upper 
province,  had  a  contrary  effect  among  the 
Rouges.  Their  alliance  with  the  Clear  Grit 
party  wellnigh  brought  their  complete  over- 
throw. Dorion  himself  was  elected,  but  his 
namesake  J.  B.  E.  Dorion,  commonly  known 
as  Venfant  terrible,  was  unsuccessful,  as  also 
was  Luther  H.  Holton,  the  leading  English- 
speaking  Liberal  of  the  province.  Other 
prominent  Rouges  such  as  Papin,  Doutre, 
Fournier,  and  Letellier  were  given  abundant 
leisure  to  deplore  the  fanaticism  of  George 
Brown.  Cartier  had  the  satisfaction  of  com- 
ing to  the  assistance  of  his  colleague  with 


almost   the   whole   representation   of    Lower 
Canada  at  his  back. 

This  brings  us  to  the  historic  incident  of 
the  '  Double  Shuffle.'  Shortly  after  the  elec- 
tions it  became  known  that  Her  Majesty,  in 
response  to  the  request  of  the  legislature,  had 
chosen  Ottawa  as  the  seat  of  government. 
The  announcement  was  somewhat  prema- 
turely made  and  gave  rise  to  a  good  deal  of 
dissatisfaction.  This  manifested  itself  when 
parliament  met.  In  the  early  days  of  the 
session  of  1858  a  motion  was  carried  in  the 
Assembly  to  the  effect  that  '  in  the  opinion 
of  this  House,  the  city  of  Ottawa  ought  not 
to  be  the  permanent  seat  of  government 
of  this  province.*  Thereupon  the  Ministry 
promptly  resigned,  construing  the  vote  as  a 
slight  upon  Her  Majesty,  who  had  been  asked 
to  make  the  selection.  The  governor-general 
then  sent  for  Brown  and  invited  him  to  form 
a  new  Administration.  What  followed  affords 
an  admirable  illustration  of  the  character  of 
George  Brown.  Though  in  an  undoubted 
minority  in  a  House  fresh  from  the  people, 
with  Lower  Canada  almost  unitedly  opposed 
to  him,  Brown  accepted  the  invitation  of  the 
governor-general.  His  only  hope  could  have 
lain  in  a  dissolution,  and  Sir  Edmund  Head 


gave  him  to  understand  at  the  outset,  both  ver- 
bally and  in  writing,  that  on  this  he  must  not 
count.  There  are  several  examples  in  British 
political  history,  notably  that  of  Lord  Derby 
in  1858  and  Disraeli  in  1873,  where  statesmen 
in  opposition,  feeling  that  the  occasion  was 
not  ripe  for  their  purposes,  have  refused  to 
take  advantage  of  the  defeat  of  the  Ministry 
to  which  they  were  opposed.  George  Brown 
was  not  so  constituted.  Without  attempting 
to  weigh  the  chances  of  being  able  to  main- 
tain himself  in  power  for  a  single  week,  he 
eagerly  grasped  the  prize.  Two  days  after  his 
summons  he  and  his  colleagues  were  sworn 
into  office  and  had  assumed  the  functions  of 
advisers  of  the  crown.  How  accurately  does 
this  headlong  impetuosity  bear  out  Sir  John 
Macdonald's  estimate  of  the  man  !  * 

The  inevitable  happened,  and  that  speedily. 
Within  a  few  hours  the  Assembly  passed  a 
vote  of  want  of  confidence  in  the  new  Ministry, 
and  Brown  and  his  colleagues,  having  been 
refused  a  dissolution,  were  compelled  to  resign. 
The  governor-general  sent  for  A.  T.  Gait,  then 

*  'The  great  reason  why  I  have  always  been  able  to  beat 
Brown  is  that  I  have  been  able  to  look  a  little  ahead,  while 
he  could  on  no  occasion  forgo  the  temptation  of  a  temporary 
triumph'  (Sir  John  A.  Macdonald  to  M.  C.  Cameron,  dated 
Ottawa,  January  3,  1872). 


the  able  and  popular  member  of  the  House 
from  Sherbrooke  in  Lower  Canada.  But  Gait 
declined  the  honour.  The  formation  of  a 
new  Administration  was  then  entrusted  to 
Cartier,  who,  with  the  assistance  of  Mac- 
donald,  soon  accomplished  the  task.  Thus 
came  into  power  the  former  Macdonald- 
Cartier  Government,  under  the  changed  name 
of  the  Cartier-Macdonald  Government,  with 
personnel  very  slightly  altered.  Even  this 
did  not  fill  up  the  cup  of  Brown's  humilia- 
tion. By  their  acceptance  of  office  he  and 
his  colleagues  had  vacated  their  seats  in  the 
Assembly,  and  so  found  themselves  outside  the 
legislature  for  the  remainder  of  the  session. 
Those  members  of  the  Cartier-Macdonald 
Government,  on  the  contrary,  who  had  been 
members  of  the  Macdonald-Cartier  Govern- 
ment, did  not  vacate  their  seats  by  reason  of 
their  resumption  of  office.  The  Independence 
of  Parliament  Act  of  1857  provided  that 

whenever  any  person  holding  the  office 
of  Receiver  General,  Inspector  General, 
Secretary  of  the  Province,  Commissioner 
of  Crown  Lands,  Attorney  General, 
Solicitor  General,  Commissioner  of  Public 
Works,  Speaker  of  the  Legislative  Council, 


President  of  Committees  of  the  Executive 
Council,  Minister  of  Agriculture,  or  Post- 
master General,  and  being  at  the  same 
time  a  member  of  the  Legislative  Assembly 
or  an  elected  member  of  the  Legislative 
Council,  shall  resign  his  office,  and  within 
one  month  after  his  resignation  accept 
any  other  of  the  said  offices,  he  shall  not 
thereby  vacate  his  seat  in  the  said  Assem- 
bly or  Council. 

These  words  are  clear.  Any  member  of  a 
government  could  resign  his  office  and  accept 
another  within  one  month  without  vacating 
his  seat  in  parliament.  Thirty  days  had  not 
elapsed  since  Macdonald  had  held  the  port- 
folio of  attorney-general.  There  was,  there- 
fore, no  legal  necessity  for  his  taking  the  sense 
of  his  constituents  on  resuming  it.  Elections 
no  more  in  1858  than  now  were  run  for  the 
fun  of  the  thing.  One  technical  objection 
alone  stood  in  the  way.  The  Act  says  that 
if  any  member  resign  office,  and  within  one 
month  after  his  resignation  accept  any  other 
of  the  said  offices,  he  shall  not  thereby  vacate 
his  seat  in  the  Assembly.  It  says  nothing 
about  the  effect  of  accepting  anew  the  office 
just  demitted,  though  it  seems  only  reasonable 


to  infer  that,  if  the  acceptance  of  a  new  office 
by  a  minister  did  not  call  for  a  fresh  appeal  to 
his  constituents,  a  fortiori  neither  would  the 
mere  resumption  of  an  office  whose  acceptance 
they  had  already  approved.  In  the  judgment 
of  Macdonald  and  several  of  his  colleagues 
there  was  no  legal  impediment  to  the  direct 
resumption  of  their  former  offices,  but  a  dif- 
ference of  opinion  existed  on  the  point,  and, 
in  order  to  keep  clearly  within  the  law,  the 
ministers  first  accepted  portfolios  other  than 
those  formerly  held  by  them.  Thus,  Cartier 
was  first  sworn  in  as  inspector-general  and 
Macdonald  as  postmaster-general.  On  the 
following  day  they  resigned  these  portfolios 
and  were  appointed  respectively  to  their  old 
offices  of  attorney-general  East  and  attor- 
ney-general West.  Their  colleagues  in  the 
Macdonald- Car  tier  Government  underwent  a 
similar  experience. 

The  '  Double  Shuffle  '  proved  a  source  of 
acute  dissatisfaction  to  Brown  and  his  friends. 
The  ministers  were  accused  by  them  of  having 
perverted  an  Act  of  Parliament  to  a  sense  it 
was  never  intended  to  bear.  Their  action  in 
swearing  to  discharge  duties  which  they  never 
intended  to  perform  was  characterized  as  little 
short  of  perjury.  They  were,  however,  sus- 


tained  both  by  parliament  and  in  the  courts. 
Thirteen  years  later,  no  less  a  personage  than 
Gladstone  gave  to  the  proceeding  the  sanction 
of  his  great  authority.  In  order  to  qualify 
Sir  Robert  Collier,  his  attorney-general,  for  a 
seat  on  the  Judicial  Committee  of  the  Privy 
Council,  appointments  to  which  were  re- 
stricted to  judges,  he  nominated  him  a  justice 
of  the  Court  of  Common  Pleas,  in  which  Sir 
Robert  took  his  seat,  sat  for  a  few  days,  re- 
signed, and  went  on  the  Judicial  Committee.* 
The  year  1858  saw  the  beginnings  of  a 
movement  in  the  direction  of  Confederation. 
At  an  early  period  in  the  session  Gait  raised 
the  question  in  an  interesting  speech.  When 
he  joined  the  Ministry,  as  inspector-general 
(finance  minister),  he  again  brought  it  forward. 
During  recess  a  delegation  consisting  of  Cartier, 
Gait,  and  John  Ross  proceeded  to  England 
with  the  object  of  discussing  the  subject  with 
Her  Majesty's  government. 

*  Gladstone  stoutly  defended  the  propriety  of  his  course, 
which  had  the  assent  of  his  whole  Cabinet,  and  also  the  approval 
of  such  great  legal  authorities  as  Lords  Selborne  and  Hatherley. 
This  case  of  Sir  Robert  Collier  is  almost  exactly  on  all  fours 
with  the  *  Double  Shuffle.'  Gladstone  did  a  similar  thing-  a  few 
months  later  in  the  appointment  of  the  Rev.  Mr  Harvey  to  the 
Rectory  of  Ewelme.  See  Morley's  Life  of  Gladstone,  vol.  ii, 
pp.  382-7.  For  further  explanation  of  the  *  Double  Shuffle,' 
see  Pope's  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  vol.  i,  pp.  198-205. 


The  ranks  of  the  Reform  Opposition  at 
this  time  included  D'Arcy  M'Gee,  William 
M'Dougall,  and  many  other  strong  debaters, 
among  them  John  Sandfield  Macdonald,  who 
had  sat  continuously  in  the  Assembly  since 
the  Union — for  Glengarry  until  the  general 
elections  of  1857,  and  then  for  Cornwall.  At 
first  he  had  been  a  Conservative,  but  he  drifted 
into  the  Liberal  ranks  and  remained  there 
until  after  Confederation,  despite  periodic 
differences  with  George  Brown.  He  opposed 
the  Confederation  movement.  But  we  must 
not  anticipate  his  career  further  than  to  say 
that  his  political  attitude  was  at  all  times 
extremely  difficult  to  define.  That  he  him- 
self would  not  demur  to  this  estimate  may  be 
inferred  from  the  fact  that  he  was  wont  to 
describe  himself,  in  his  younger  days,  as  a 
'  political  Ishmaelite.'  Though  born  and  bred 
a  Roman  Catholic,  he  was  not  commonly  re- 
garded as  an  eminently  devout  member  of  that 
Church,  of  which  he  used  laughingly  to  call 
himself  'an  outside  pillar.'  The  truth  is  that 
John  Sandfield  Macdonald  was  too  impatient 
of  restraint  and  too  tenacious  of  his  own 
opinions  to  submit  to  any  authority.  In  no 
sense  could  he  be  called  a  party  man. 

Another  member  of  the  Opposition  was  the 


young  man  we  have  already  met  as  a  student 
in  Macdonald's  law-office,  afterwards  Sir 
Oliver  Mowat,  prime  minister  of  Ontario. 
Mowat  was  of  a  type  very  different  to  Sandfield 
Macdonald.  He  had  been  a  consistent  Re- 
former from  his  youth  up.  After  a  heated 
struggle,  he  had  been  elected  to  parliament 
for  the  South  Riding  of  Ontario,  in  the  general 
elections  of  1857,  over  the  receiver-general 
J.  C.  Morrison.  On  this  occasion  the  electors 
were  assured  that  the  alternative  presented  to 
them  was  to  vote  for  '  Mowat  and  the  Queen  ' 
or  '  Morrison  and  the  Pope/  Mowat  at  once 
took  a  prominent  position  in  the  Liberal  ranks, 
and  formed  one  of  George  Brown's  '  Short 

Among  those  who  first  entered  parliament 
at  the  general  elections  of  1857  were  Hector 
Langevin  and  John  Rose.  The  former  was 
selected  to  move  the  vote  of  want  of  con- 
fidence in  the  short-lived  Brown-Dorion  Ad- 
ministration. Rose  at  that  time  was  a  young 
and  comparatively  unknown  lawyer  of  Mon- 
treal, in  whom  Macdonald  had  detected  signs 
of  great  promise.  Earlier  in  the  same  year 
he  had  accompanied  Macdonald  on  an  official 
mission  to  England.  This  was  the  beginning 
of  a  close  personal  friendship  between  the  two 


men,  which  lasted  for  more  than  thirty  years 
arid  had  no  little  bearing  on  Rose's  future. 
On  returning  from  England  Macdonald  ap- 
pointed him  solicitor  -  general  for  Lower 
Canada.  In  the  ensuing  election  Rose  stood 
for  Montreal,  against  no  less  a  personage  than 
Luther  H.  Holton,  and  was  elected.  He  was 
destined  to  fill  the  office  of  Finance  minister 
of  Canada,  to  become  a  baronet,  an  Imperial 
Privy  Councillor,  and  a  close  friend  of  His 
Majesty  King  Edward  VII,  then  Prince  of 
Wales.  It  was  believed  that  still  higher 
marks  of  distinction  were  to  be  conferred  upon 
him,  when  he  died  in  1888.  It  was  said  that 
Sir  John  Rose  owed  much  of  his  success  to 
the  cleverness  and  charm  of  his  wife.  I  have 
often  heard  Sir  John  Macdonald  speak  of 
her  as  a  brilliant  and  delightful  woman  of  the 
world,  devoted  at  all  times  to  her  husband 
and  his  interests.  This  lady  was  originally 
Miss  Charlotte  Temple  of  Vermont.  Before 
becoming  the  wife  of  John  Rose  she  had  been 
married  and  widowed.  There  had  been  a 
tragic  event  in  her  life.  This  was  related  to 
me  by  Sir  John  Macdonald  substantially  as  I 
set  it  down  here. 

About    the    year    1840    there    resided    in 
Montreal  a  Mr  and  Mrs  Robert  Sweeny,  well- 

D.J.M.  E 


known  and  popular  society  people.  Among 
the  military  officers  stationed  there  was 
Major  Henry  J.  Warde  of  the  ist  Royals,  a 
friend  of  the  Sweenys.  One  day  an  anony- 
mous intimation  was  received  by  Mr  Sweeny 
to  the  effect  that  Major  Warde  was  too  atten- 
tive to  his  wife.  Shortly  afterwards  the 
Sweenys  gave  a  dinner,  in  the  course  of  which 
a  note,  addressed  to  Mrs  Sweeny,  and  a 
bouquet  were  brought  in.  Sweeny,  whose 
suspicions  had  become  thoroughly  aroused, 
demanded  to  see  the  note.  Mrs  Sweeny 
refused,  whereupon  he  took  it  from  her  by 
force.  The  party  broke  up  in  confusion. 
Sweeny  rushed  to  the  officers*  mess,  where 
Warde  was  dining.  As  he  bounded  up  the 
stairs,  the  officers,  recognizing  his  step,  called 
to  him  to  join  them  in  a  glass  of  wine.  He 
entered  the  room,  and  going  up  to  Warde  then 
and  there  publicly  insulted  him.  The  in- 
evitable duel  took  place  next  morning,  and  at 
the  first  shot  Major  Warde  fell  dead.  Sweeny 
had  to  flee  the  country.  He  escaped  to  St 
Albans,  Vermont,  where  he  died,  it  was  said, 
of  remorse  a  few  months  later.  What  must 
have  added  poignancy  to  his  sufferings  was 
the  statement,  afterwards  made,  that  the 
whole  affair  was  a  malicious  plot,  and  that 


the  fatal  missive  which  caused  all  the  trouble 
was  a  forgery.  Afterwards  Mrs  Sweeny  re- 
turned to  Montreal,  where  she  went  into 
lodgings.  About  the  same  time  a  raw  Scot- 
tish lad,  who  had  been  teaching  school  in 
the  county  of  Huntingdon,  came  to  Montreal 
to  study  law.  There  he  met  Mrs  Sweeny, 
with  whom  he  fell  in  love,  and  they  were 
married.  This  was  John  Rose,  and  Mrs 
Sweeny  as  Lady  Rose  lived  to  adorn  the 
society  of  the  chief  Canadian  cities  and  after- 
wards of  London  until  her  death  in  1883. 

The  parliamentary  record  of  the  years 
immediately  succeeding  1858  is  not  particu- 
larly interesting.  George  Brown  continued 
to  fight  for  representation  by  population  with 
undiminished  vigour,  and  although  both  he 
and  his  Lower -Canadian  colleague,  Dorion, 
were  defeated  in  the  general  elections  of  1861, 
he  was  gaining  ground.  The  antagonism 
between  Upper  and  Lower  Canada  yearly 
became  more  tense,  and  there  were  signs  of 
the  approach  of  that  deadlock  which  was  still 
in  the  future. 

An  agreeable  occurrence  of  the  year  1860 
was  the  visit  of  the  Prince  of  Wales  to  Canada. 
The  occasion  served  to  bring  a  truce  to  the 
political  warfare  which  was  being  waged  with 


incredible  bitterness  for  twelve  months  in 
the  year.  The  Government  provided  for  the 
entertainment  of  its  royal  guest  and  made 
John  Rose  master  of  the  ceremonies.  It  is 
probable  that  out  of  this  circumstance  grew  the 
royal  friendship  with  which  Sir  John  Rose  was 
honoured  in  after  years. 

The  year  1862  witnessed  the  defeat  of  the 
Cartier-Macdonald  Government.  The  immedi- 
ate cause  was  a  Militia  Bill.  The  American 
Civil  War,  and  more  particularly  the  Trent 
affair  of  November  1861,  drew  the  attention 
of  those  in  authority  to  the  inadequate  means 
of  defence  in  Canada.  In  December  a  general 
order  was  issued  calling  upon  the  volunteer 
force  to  hold  themselves  in  readiness  for  active 
service.  The  civil  administration  of  the  militia 
was  placed  in  charge  of  Macdonald,  and  in 
January  1862  a  commission  was  appointed 
with  the  following  instructions  : 

ist.  To  report  a  plan  for  the  better  organiza- 
tion of  the  department  of  Adjutant-General  of 

2nd.  To  investigate  and  report  upon  the 
best  means  of  organizing  the  militia,  and  pro- 
viding an  efficient  and  economical  system  for 
the  defence  of  the  province. 

3rd.  To  prepare  a  bill  or  bills  on  the  above 


subjects,  to  be  submitted  to  parliament  at 
its  next  session. 

The  commission  performed  its  duties  with 
dispatch,  and  on  April  25  Macdonald  presented 
to  parliament  the  fruit  of  its  labours  in  the 
form  of  a  bill  to  promote  the  more  efficient 
organization  of  the  militia  of  Canada.  On  the 
motion  for  the  second  reading  he  spoke  at 
length  concerning  the  reasons  which  made 
this  legislation  necessary.  The  measure  had 
been  carefully  thought  out,  and  was  well 
adapted  to  the  requirements  of  the  time.  It 
entailed,  however,  the  expenditure  of  a  large 
sum  of  money,  and  on  this  ground  was  un- 
popular with  a  certain  number  of  Cartier's 
followers.  On  May  20  the  vote  on  the 
second  reading,  which  was  taken  without  de- 
bate, resulted  in  the  rejection  of  the  bill  by  a 
majority  of  seven.  This  defeat  was  entirely 
due  to  defection  among  the  Lower  Canadians. 
Of  the  Upper-Canadian  members  the  Govern- 
ment had  a  majority  of  seven  votes. 

Cartier  was  succeeded  as  prime  minister 
by  John  Sandfield  Macdonald,  whose  ally 
from  Lower  Canada  was  L.  V.  Sicotte.  Sand- 
field Macdonald,  a  steadfast  opponent  of  the 
proposal  of  representation  by  population,  was, 
of  course,  eminently  distasteful  to  George 


Brown.  To  the  Rouges  this  presented  no 
difficulty.  Dorion  and  his  friends  took  office 
in  the  new  Government.  The  double-majority 
principle  was  laid  down  as  a  binding  rule. 
Its  purport  was  that  no  Ministry  should  be 
held  to  possess  the  confidence  of  parliament 
unless  it  could  command  a  majority  from 
both  the  French  and  the  English  sections  of 
Canada.  The  rule  speedily  proved  unworkable 
in  practice.  The  Macdonald-Sicotte  Govern- 
ment was  not  of  long  duration.  It  had  many 
difficulties  to  contend  with.  A  reconstruc- 
tion of  the  Cabinet  in  May  1863  was  followed 
by  a  general  election.  This,  however,  did 
not  improve  matters  for  the  Government. 
The  parties  in  the  new  House  were  almost 
equally  divided.  The  Ministry  lingered  on  a 
few  months,  and,  without  waiting  for  a  formal 
vote  of  no  confidence,  at  last  resigned  on 
March  21,  1864. 

The  Liberal-Conservatives  came  back  to 
office,  though  not  to  power,  under  Sir  Etienne 
Tache,  who  had  received  the  honour  of  knight- 
hood since  last  we  heard  of  him.  In  less  than 
three  months  his  Government  met  defeat  by 
a  majority  of  two  votes  in  the  Assembly. 
Thus  within  three  years  four  Ministries  had 
been  defeated,  and  two  general  elections  had 


From  a  portrait  in  the  John  Ross  Robertson  Collection, 
Toronto  Public  Library 


failed  to  break  the  deadlock  which  threatened 
to  make  government  impossible  in  Canada. 

The  man  responsible  above  all  others  for 
this  deplorable  state  of  things  was  he  who  for 
years  past  had  not  ceased  in  the  columns  of 
his  paper  and  from  his  place  in  parliament  to 
set  one  section  of  Canada  against  the  other  ; 
who  laboured  to  stir  up  racial  and  religious 
strife  ;  who  habitually  gave  to  the  people  of 
Upper  Canada  a  distorted  view  of  the  national 
characteristics  and  the  religious  belief  of  their 
fellow-countrymen  in  Lower  Canada.  The 
result  was  that  the  Union  formed  only  twenty- 
three  years  before,  the  Union  about  which 
such  high  hopes  had  been  entertained,  was  on 
the  point  of  breaking  up.  The  actual  impasse 
which  had  now  been  reached  seems  to  have 
opened  George  Brown's  eyes  to  the  effects  of 
his  course,  and  to  have  convinced  him  that 
the  time  had  arrived  when  a  cessation  of  the 
old  feuds  was  absolutely  necessary  to  the 
carrying  on  of  the  queen's  government  in 
Canada.  Impelled  by  a  sense  of  patriotism 
and,  we  may  well  believe,  at  the  expense  of 
his  personal  feelings,  he  now  joined  hands  with 
Macdonald  and  Cartier  for  the  purpose  of 
carrying  the  great  scheme  of  Confederation. 
This,  and  this  alone,  promised  deliverance 


from   the    unhappy    deadlock   that    impeded 
the  progress  of  the  co.untry. 

Since  there  is  promised  a  separate  account 
of  the  great  work  of  Confederation  in  another 
volume  of  the  present  Series,  I  do  not  propose 
to  do  more  here  than  allude  to  it  briefly. 
It  is  known  that  immediately  after  the  defeat 
of  the  Tache-Macdonald  government  in  June 
1864,  Brown  said  to  several  supporters  of 
the  Administration,  among  them  Alexander 
Morris  and  John  Henry  Pope,  that  the  pre- 
sent crisis  should  be  utilized  to  settle  for  ever 
the  constitutional  difficulties  between  Upper 
and  Lower  Canada.  He  assured  them  of 
his  willingness  to  co-operate  for  this  end. 
Macdonald  quickly  responded  to  the  overture, 
and  the  next  day  he  and  Gait  met  Brown  in 
the  St  Louis  Hotel,  Quebec.  It  is  worthy  of 
note  that  at  this  interview  Macdonald  and 
Gait  proposed,  as  a  remedy  for  existing  ills,  a 
federal  union  of  all  the  British  North- American 
provinces.  Brown,  on  the  other  hand,  while 
theoretically  commending  the  idea,  did  not 
regard  it  as  within  the  region  of  practical 
politics,  but  viewed  its  adoption  as  '  uncertain 
and  remote/  His  remedy  was  *  Parliament- 
ary Reform,  based  on  population,  without 
regard  to  a  separating  line  between  Upper 


and  Lower  Canada/  This  was  simply  his  old 
friend  '  Representation  by  Population  '  under 
another  name.  When  assured  that  it  would 
be  impossible  to  carry  such  a  measure,  Brown 
agreed  that  the  Government  should  negotiate 
for  a  confederation  of  all  the  provinces.  If 
this  failed,  they  should  then  introduce  the 
federal  principle  for  Canada  alone,  while  pro- 
viding for  the  future  incorporation  of  the 
Maritime  Provinces  and  the  North-West. 
On  this  understanding  Brown,  with  two 
Reform  colleagues,  Oliver  Mowat  and  William 
M'Dougall,  entered  the  Cabinet.  The  mem- 
bers of  the  reorganized  Government  lost  no 
time  in  applying  themselves  to  the  great 
object  of  the  coalition.  It  so  happened  that, 
while  Canadian  statesmen  were  thus  con- 
sidering the  question  of  a  union  of  British 
North  America,  the  thoughts  of  public  men 
in  the  provinces  by  the  Atlantic — Nova 
Scotia,  New  Brunswick,  and  Prince  Edward 
Island — were  turned  in  the  direction  of  a 
union  of  these  provinces.  A  convention  was 
about  to  meet  at  Charlottetown  to  discuss  the 
subject.  The  Canadian  Government  deter- 
mined to  take  advantage  of  this  opportunity, 
and  eight  members  of  the  Ministry  repaired  to 
Charlottetown,  where  they  were  hospitably 


received  and  were  invited  by  the  conference 
to  express  their  views.  They  unfolded  the 
benefits  to  be  derived  from  the  larger  scheme 
with  such  effect  that  the  conference  agreed  to 
adjourn  and  to  reassemble  at  Quebec.  The 
Quebec  Conference  met  on  October  10,  1864, 
and  continued  in  session  until  the  28th  of  the 
same  month.  The  deliberations  resulted  in 
seventy-two  resolutions.  These  were  adopted 
by  the  Canadian  legislature  at  its  next  session, 
and  formed  the  basis  of  the  deliberations  of 
the  conference  which  assembled  in  the  West- 
minster Palace  Hotel,  London,  on  December  4, 
1866,  under  the  presidency  of  Macdonald,  for 
the  purpose  of  drafting  the  British  North 
America  Act.  These  several  steps,  however, 
were  not  reached  without  the  overcoming  of 
many  obstacles.  The  Rouge  party  led  by 
Dorion  was  hostile  to  the  whole  project,  as 
were  Sandfield  Macdonald  and  a  few  Upper- 
Canadian  Reformers.  The  people  of  New 
Brunswick  pronounced  against  the  scheme  at 
the  polls  before  the  question  had  been  laid 
before  their  legislature.  The  legislature  of 
Prince  Edward  Island  emphatically  declined 
a  union  '  which  it  believed  would  prove 
politically,  commercially,  and  financially  dis- 
astrous to  the  rights  and  interests  of  its 


people.'  George  Brown  quan 
colleagues  and  left  the  Cabinel 
after  experienced  a  renewal  of 
opposition.*  Negotiations  regan 
city  with  the  United  States  engage 
attention  of  the  Ministry  during  the  early 
part  of  the  year  1866.  Scarcely  had  they  been 
disposed  of  when  a  series  of  Fenian  attacks 
along  the  Canadian  frontier  caused  much  con- 
cern, and  added  largely  to  the  cares  of 
Macdonald,  who  as  minister  of  Militia  Affairs 
was  at  that  time  responsible  for  the  defence 
of  the  country.  His  labours  were  incessant, 
his  responsibility  heavy,  and  his  discourage- 
ments not  a  few  ;  but  with  inflexible  deter- 
mination and  rare  patience  he  eventually 
surmounted  all  the  difficulties,  and  on  July  i, 
1867,  witnessed  the  birth  of  the  new  Dominion. 
From  that  time  forth  the  responsibilities  of 
his  position,  though  greatly  enlarged,  were 
more  easily  borne.  The  sense  of  dependence 
on  one  province  for  support  was  no  longer  felt. 

*  If  any  one  should  doubt  the  ferocity  of  Brown's  attacks  on 
the  Ministry,  and  especially  upon  Sir  John  A.  Macdonald,  let 
him  turn  up  the  Globe  files  for  that  period — more  particularly  the 
issue  of  September  5,  1866,  which  contained  an  attack  so  violent 
as  to  call  forth  a  protest  from  so  staunch  an  opponent  of  the 
Conservative  leader  as  Alexander  Mackenzie.  I  commend  also 
to  the  curious  the  Globe  of  April  30,  1870. 




•XThe  enlargement  of  the  arena  and  the  in- 
qlu?ion  of  many  new  men  of  marked  ability 
into  Canadian  public  life  tended  to  assuage 
somewhat  the  old-time  bitterness  of  political 
strife.  Perhaps  more  than  all,  the  unifica- 
tion of  the  office  of  prime  minister  came  as 
an  unspeakable  relief.  From  1841  to  1867 
the  office  of  first  minister  was  what  might 
be  called  in  commission,  that  is  to  say,  there 
was  a  prime  minister  for  each  section  of 
Canada.  If  an  Upper  Canadian  were  called 
upon  to  form  a  Ministry,  his  chief  colleague 
from  Lower  Canada  shared  with  him  much  of 
the  authority,  and  also  a  good  deal  of  the 
prestige  and  honour,  of  the  office.  Were  a 
Lower  Canadian  summoned,  his  principal 
Upper-Canadian  colleague  was  associated  with 
him  in  the  leadership  of  the  Government. 
Thus  Canada  had  the  administrations  of 
Baldwin-LaFontaine,  Hincks-Morin,  Tache- 
Macdonald,  Macdonald-Cartier,  Cartier-Mac- 
donald,  and  others.  This  dual  authority  was 
perhaps  necessary  at  the  time,  but  it  had 
been  attended  by  many  inconveniences,  and 
the  confederation  of  the  provinces  afforded  a 
fitting  opportunity  to  bring  it  to  an  end.  The 
governor-general,  Lord  Monck,  when  confiding 
the  duty  of  forming  the  first  Dominion  Cabinet 
to  Macdonald,  addressed  him  in  these  terms  : 


In  authorizing  you  to  undertake  the 
duty  of  forming  an  administration  for  the 
Dominion  of  Canada,  I  desire  to  express 
my  strong  opinion  that,  in  future,  it  shall 
be  distinctly  understood  that  the  position 
of  First  Minister  shall  be  held  by  one 
person,  who  shall  be  responsible  to  the 
Governor  General  for  the  appointment  of 
the  other  Ministers,  and  that  the  system 
of  dual  First  Ministers,  which  has  hitherto 
prevailed,  shall  be  put  an  end  to.  I  think 
this  is  of  importance,  not  only  with  re- 
ference to  the  maintenance  of  satisfactory 
relations  between  the  Governor  General 
and  his  Cabinet,  but  also  with  a  view  to 
the  complete  consolidation  of  the  Union 
which  we  have  brought  about.* 

On  the  first  Dominion  Day,  Lord  Monck 
announced  that  John  A.  Macdonald  had  been 
created  a  Knight  Commander  of  the  Bath, 
and  that  Cartier,  Gait,  Tilley,  Tupper, 
Rowland,  and  M'Dougall  had  been  made 
Companions  of  the  same  order.  Cartier  and 
Gait  considered  this  recognition  of  their 
services  inadequate  and  declined  to  receive 
the  decoration.  A  good  deal  of  feeling  was 
aroused  in  Lower  Canada  among  the  French 

*  From  the  Viscount  Monck  to  Mr  John  A.  Macdonald,  dated 
London,  May  24,  1867. 


Canadians  at  what  was  looked  upon  as  a 
slight  to  the  representative  man  of  their  race. 
Cartier  himself  appears  to  have  taken  the 
matter  momentarily  to  heart,  and  is  said  to 
have  shown  a  disposition  to  attach  some  blame 
to  Macdonald,  who,  of  course,  had  nothing 
whatever  to  do  with  it.  It  was  this  circum- 
stance that  gave  rise  to  the  stories,  echoes  of 
which  are  heard  even  to-day,  of  dissensions 
between  Macdonald  and  Cartier.  In  the  first 
flush  of  his  natural  disappointment  Cartier 
may  have  made  use  of  some  hasty  expressions, 
and  thus  lent  colour  to  a  report  which  had  no 
serious  foundation.  There  never  was  any  real 
breach  between  the  two  men.  In  order  to 
allay  the  soreness,  Lord  Monck  obtained  per- 
mission to  offer  Cartier  a  baronetcy  if  Sir  John 
Macdonald  was  agreeable.  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald at  once  replied  that  he  would  be  only 
too  glad  to  see  his  colleague  thus  honoured. 
Gait  was  made  a  K.C.M.G.  at  the  same  time, 
and  thus  the  affair  was  brought  to  a  happy 
termination.  This  is  the  whole  story.  It 
may  be  mentioned,  as  illustrating  the  sim- 
plicity of  life  during  the  period,  that  when 
Sir  George  Cartier  was  created  a  baronet,  he 
had  to  borrow  on  his  personal  note  the  money 
to  pay  the  necessary  fees. 


The  general  elections  that  came  off  shortly 
after  the  formation  of  the  Dominion  went 
decisively  in  favour  of  the  Government — 
except  in  Nova  Scotia.  There  it  was  other- 
wise. A  violent  and  unreasoning  opposition, 
led  by  Joseph  Howe,  swept  all  before  it.  Of 
the  Conservative  candidates  in  Nova  Scotia, 
Sir  Charles  Tupper,  then  Dr  Tupper,  was 
the  only  one  who  carried  his  constituency. 
The  remaining  eighteen,  including  Adams 
Archibald,  the  secretary  of  state  for  the 
provinces,  suffered  defeat.  It  speaks  not  a 
little  for  Charles  Tupper's  influence  in  his 
native  province  that  at  the  next  general 
elections  (in  1872)  these  figures  were  reversed, 
the  Conservatives  carrying  twenty  out  of 
twenty-one  seats.  Macdonald  and  Tupper 
first  met  at  the  Confederation  negotiations  in 
1864.  They  were  attracted  to  each  other  at 
first  sight,  and  formed  an  offensive  and  de- 
fensive alliance  which  was  terminated  only  by 
Macdonald 's  death  twenty-seven  years  later. 

No  single  event  in  Sir  John  Macdonald's 
career  affords  a  more  admirable  illustration 
of  his  strategic  ability,  delicate  finesse,  and 
subtle  power  over  men  than  his  negotiations 
with  Joseph  Howe.  Howe's  opposition  to 
Confederation  was  of  no  ordinary  kind.  He 


had  long  been  a  conspicuous  figure  in  Nova 
Scotia,  and  was  passionately  devoted  to  the 
interests  of  the  province.  He  was  incom- 
parably the  greatest  natural  orator  that 
British  North  America  has  ever  produced. 
With  the  enthusiastic  support  of  the  whole 
province  he  proceeded  to  England,  shortly 
after  Confederation,  and  there,  with  all  his 
great  ability  and  eloquence,  he  strove  for  re- 
peal. His  efforts  proved  unavailing.  Tupper 
was  in  England  at  the  same  time,  not  to  argue 
the  case  for  the  Dominion,  but  to  afford  the 
Imperial  authorities  full  information  upon 
the  subject.  He  and  Howe  returned  on  the 
same  steamer.  A  few  weeks  later  Macdonald, 
Cartier,  and  certain  of  their  colleagues  paid 
a  visit  to  Halifax,  where,  as  Macdonald 
naively  records,  they  were  received  by  the 
members  of  the  local  government  with  '  suf- 
ficient courtesy.'  A  most  interesting  cor- 
respondence afterwards  took  place  between 
Macdonald  and  Howe,  with  the  result  that 
early  in  the  year  1869  Howe  entered  the 
Dominion  Cabinet  as  president  of  the  Privy 
Council.  He  remained  there  four  years,  and 
then  retired  to  become  the  lieutenant-governor 
of  Nova  Scotia,  in  which  office  he  died  shortly 


The  first  session  of  the  Dominion  parlia- 
ment was  saddened  by  the  assassination  of 
Thomas  D'Arcy  M'Gee,  one  of  the  most 
gifted  and  charming  of  men,  within  a  stone's 
throw  of  the  House  of  Commons.  An  Irish- 
man by  birth,  M'Gee  in  early  life  attached 
himself  to  the  Young  Ireland  party.  He  took 
part  in  the  insurrection  of  Smith  O'Brien,  and 
in  consequence  was  obliged  to  flee  the  country. 
After  some  years  spent  in  the  United  States, 
he  settled  in  Montreal,  where  he  started  a 
newspaper.  He  speedily  became  a  favourite 
with  the  Irishmen  of  that  city,  and  by  their 
influence  he  was  returned  to  parliament  in 
1857.  True  to  the  national  instinct,  M'Gee 
began  his  political  career  as  an  opponent  of 
the  Government.  In  1862  he  accepted  a 
portfolio  under  John  Sandfield  Macdonald, 
but  he  was  dropped  on  the  reconstruction  of 
the  Cabinet  in  1863,  and  then  passed  under  the 
influence  of  John  A.  Macdonald.  The  two 
speedily  became,  not  merely  political,  but  per- 
sonal friends.  From  1864  to  1866  they  were 
colleagues  in  the  Tache- Macdonald  Adminis- 
tration. In  1865  M'Gee  visited  Ireland,  and 
while  there  made  a  speech  in  which  he  un- 
sparingly denounced  Fenianism,  and  besought 
his  countrymen  to  shun  all  connection  with 

D.J.M.  F 


that  odious  conspiracy.  From  that  hour  he 
was  a  marked  man.  M'Gee  was  shot  from 
behind  his  back  while  he  was  entering  his 
lodgings  in  Ottawa,  in  the  early  morning  of 
April  7,  1868.  Several  persons  were  arrested 
for  complicity  in  the  murder.  One  of  them, 
Thomas  Whalen,  was  found  guilty  and  was 
executed  on  February  n,  1869. 

Shortly  before  the  meeting  of  the  first 
session  of  the  first  parliament  of  the  Dominion, 
Sir  Alexander  Gait,  the  minister  of  Finance, 
suddenly  resigned  his  portfolio  and  left  the 
Government.  His  action  is  supposed  to  have 
been  in  some  way  connected  with  the  failure 
of  the  Commercial  Bank,  which  occurred  about 
that  time,  but  no  one  who  knew  Sir  Alexander 
Gait  would  waste  time  in  seeking  to  account 
for  his  actions,  which  often  could  only  be 
accounted  for  by  his  constitutional  incon- 
stancy. In  saying  this  I  do  not  for  a  moment 
wish  to  ascribe  any  sordid  or  unworthy 
motive  to  Gait,  who  was  a  man  of  large  and 
generous  mind  and  of  high  honour.  He  was, 
however,  never  a  party  man.  He  could  not 
be  brought  to  understand  the  necessity  for 
deferring  sometimes  to  his  leader.  That  spirit 
of  subordination  without  which  all  party 
government  becomes  impossible  was  foreign 


to  his  nature.  By  some  impracticable  persons 
this  may  be  regarded  as  a  virtue.  At  any 
rate,  in  Gait's  case  it  was  a  fact.  As  Sir  John 
Macdonald  once  said  of  him,  *  Gait  is  as  un- 
stable as  water,  and  never  can  be  depended 
upon  to  be  of  the  same  mind  for  forty-eight 
hours  together.7 

Gait  was  succeeded  as  minister  of  Finance 
by  Sir  John  Rose.  Two  years  later  Rose  gave 
up  his  portfolio  to  take  up  residence  in  London 
as  a  member  of  the  banking  firm  of  Morton, 
Rose  and  Company.  Circumstances  rendered 
it  necessary  that,  to  maintain  the  arrangement 
entered  into  with  Brown  in  1864,  Rose's 
successor  should  be  an  old-time  Ontario 
Liberal,  and  no  suitable  man  possessing  that 
qualification  happened  to  be  available.  But 
while  Sir  John  Macdonald  was  casting  about 
for  a  new  colleague,  Sir  Francis  Hincks  re- 
appeared on  the  scene.  In  the  interval  of 
fifteen  years  which  had  elapsed  since  Hincks 
left  Canada  he  had  been  governor  of  various 
of  the  West  India  Islands,  and  had  returned 
with  a  record  of  honourable  service  and  the 
decoration  of  Knight  Commander  of  St 
Michael  and  St  George.  Scarcely  had  Sir 
Francis  set  foot  in  Canada  when  Macdonald 
resolved  that  he  should  succeed  Sir  John  Rose. 


The  offer  was  made  and  promptly  accepted, 
and  on  October  9,  1869,  Sir  Francis  Hincks 
was  sworn  of  the  Privy  Council  and  appointed 
minister  of  Finance.  A  great  storm  followed. 
The  Globe  outdid  itself  in  denunciation  of  Sir 
John  Macdonald,  of  Sir  Francis  Hincks,  and 
of  everybody  in  the  most  remote  way 
connected  with  the  appointment.  Richard 
(afterwards  Sir  Richard)  Cartwright,  hitherto 
a  traditional  Tory,  took  umbrage  at  the 
appointment  of  Hincks,  and  notified  Sir 
John  Macdonald  no  longer  to  count  upon  his 
support,  though  he  did  not  then  finally 
leave  the  Conservative  party.  Sir  Alexander 
Gait  also  announced  his  withdrawal  from 
the  party,  and  there  was  dissatisfaction  in 
other  quarters.  Respecting  Gait's  defection 
Sir  John  Macdonald  wrote  : 

Gait  came  out,  I  am  glad  to  say,  formally 
in  opposition  and  relieved  me  of  the  diffi- 
culty connected  with  him.  His  warm 
alliance  with  the  Lower  Canadian  French 
rendered  it  necessary  for  me  to  put  up 
with  a  good  deal,  as  you  know.  But  he 
is  now  finally  dead  as  a  Canadian  politician. 
The  correspondence  between  Cartier  and 
himself,  in  which  he  comes  squarely  out 


for  independence,  has  rung  his  death-knell, 
and  I  shall  take  precious  good  care  to  keep 
him  where  he  is.  He  lias  seduced  Cart- 
wright  away,  and  I  have  found  out  how  it 
was  managed.  Cartwright  and  he  formed 
at  the  Club  last  session  a  sort  of  mutual 
admiration  society,  and  they  agreed  that 
they  were  the  two  men  fit  to  govern 
Canada.  Gait  rubbed  it  in  pretty  strong, 
as  I  have  occasion  to  know  that  he  told 
him  that  I  ought  to  have  selected  him 
(Cartwright)  as  your  successor.* 

Despite  Sir  John's  jaunty  attitude  at  the 
time,  the  appointment  of  Sir  Francis  Hincks 
could  not  be  said  to  have  fulfilled  expecta- 
tions. While  it  disappointed  Tory  ambitions, 
it  failed  to  strengthen  the  Reform  section  sup- 
porting the  Administration.  Moreover,  I  infer 
from  Sir  John's  confidential  letters  of  the  time 
that  Sir  Francis  was  not  quite  the  square  peg 
for  the  square  hole. 

Hincks  [wrote  Sir  John  to  his  friend 
Rose  in  January  1872]  is  as  suggestive  as 
ever  in  financial  matters,  but  his  rashness 
(always,  as  you  know,  the  defect  of  his 
character)  seems  to  increase  with  his  years, 

*  To  Sir  John  Rose,  dated  Ottawa,  February  23,  1870. 


and,  strange  to  say,  he  is  quite  a  stranger 
to  the  popular  opinion  of  Canada  as  it  is. 
His  Canada  is  the  Canada  of  1850.  For  all 
that  he  is  a  worthy  good  fellow  and  has 
been  successful  in  finance. 

Upon  the  whole,  I  am  inclined  to  view  the 
taking  up  of  Sir  Francis  Hincks  in  1869  as 
one  of  Sir  John  Macdonald's  very  few  mistakes. 
I  do  not  go  as  far  as  to  say  he  would  have  done 
better  to  have  chosen  Sir  Richard  Cartwright, 
who  was  only  thirty-three  years  of  age  at 
the  time,  and  who,  as  the  president  of  the 
Commercial  Bank,  which  had  failed  only  two 
years  before,  was  just  then  an  impossibility.* 
Moreover,  to  be  quite  just  to  Sir  Richard 
Cartwright,  I  must  say  that  I  have  never  seen 
evidence  to  satisfy  me  that  he  expected  to 
succeed  Sir  John  Rose.  There  is  nothing  in 
his  letters  preserved  by  Sir  John  Macdonald 
to  establish  this.  They  disclose  his  opposition 
to  Hincks,  but  he  nowhere  says  that  he  wanted 

*  Not  the  smallest  reflection  upon  Sir  Richard  Cartwright's 
personal  honour  is  sought  to  be  conveyed  here.  Sir  John  Mac<- 
donald  himself  had  been  connected  with  the  same  institutipn  for 
many  years  as  shareholder,  director,  and  solicitor,  and  its  failure 
did  not  compromise  either  of  them.  At  the  same  time,  it  is  obvious 
that  to  appoint  as  Finance  minister  the  president  of  a  bank  which 
had  recently  closed  its  doors  (no  matter  for  what  cause)  would 
be  to  invite  criticism  of  the  most  caustic  kind. 


the  position  for  himself.  It  is  true  that  in 
the  heat  of  debate  Sir  John  more  than  once 
implied  something  of  the  kind,  and  I  am  not 
aware  that  Sir  Richard  ever  denied  the 
allegation,  though  it  is  quite  possible  he  may 
have  done  so.  There  is  little  doubt,  however, 
that  the  selection  of  Sir  Francis  Hincks 
caused  Sir  Richard  Cartwright  to  abandon 
Sir  John  Macdonald.  He  did  not  leave  all 
at  once.  As  late  as  the  campaign  which  pre- 
ceded the  general  elections  of  1872  he  called 
himself  an  '  Independent/  and  the  Globe 
contemptuously  classed  him,  in  respect  of  cer- 
tain votes  he  had  given  in  parliament  which 
happened  to  be  distasteful  to  Brown,  as  *  a 
Tory  and  a  corruptionist.'  But  from  1870 
his  name  not  infrequently  appears  in  the 
division  list  of  the  House  of  Commons  among 
the  Opposition. 

The  taking  over  of  the  North- West  from 
the  Hudson's  Bay  Company  —  a  troubled 
chapter  in  the  early  history  of  the  Dominion — 
caused  Sir  John  Macdonald  a  great  deal  of 
concern.  Looking  back  after  the  event,  it 
would  seem  that  the  difficulties  experienced 
had  their  origin  in  three  main  causes  :  first, 
the  neglect  of  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company 
to  prepare  the  settlers  for  the  great  change 


involved  in  the  transfer  of  the  government 
of  that  vast  region  to  Canada  ;  secondly,  the 
lack  of  conciliation,  tact,  and  prudence  on 
the  part  of  the  Canadian  surveyors  who  were 
sent  into  the  country  in  the  summer  of  1869  ; 
and,  thirdly,  the  injudicious  course  pursued 
by  M'Dougall,  who  was  sent  to  the  North- 
West  as  lieutenant-governor  in  anticipation  of 
the  actual  transfer  to  Canada.  The  Ottawa 
authorities  appear  to  have  omitted  no  step 
which  their  scanty  knowledge  of  that  distant 
region  might  have  suggested.  In  September 
1868  a  delegation,  consisting  of  Cartier  and 
M'Dougall,  had  visited  England,  and,  after  a 
series  of  untoward  events  and  much  negotia- 
tion, had  arrived  at  an  arrangement  under 
which  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company  agreed,  in 
consideration  of  the  sum  of  £300,000,  to  sur- 
render all  their  interest  in  the  North- West  to 
the  crown,  with  the  reservation  to  the  Com- 
pany of  one-twentieth  of  the  fertile  belt  and 
of  45,000  acres  adjacent  to  its  trading  posts. 
In  the  following  September  (1869)  William 
M'Dougall  was  appointed  lieutenant-governor, 
but  prior  to  that  date  Joseph  Howe,  the 
secretary  of  state  for  the  provinces,  went  to 
Fort  Garry  in  order  to  prepare  the  way  for 
the  new  governor.  Howe  found  the  people 


largely  uninformed  as  to  the  true  position  of 
affairs,  but  he  added  that  by  *  frank  and  cour- 
teous explanation  '  he  had  cleared  the  air  a 
good  deal,  and  that  the  future  would  depend 
upon  M'DougalPs  tact,  temper,  and  discre- 
tion. What  happened  is  well  known — the  bad 
handling  of  the  situation  by  M'Dougall,  the 
insurrection  of  the  half-breeds  under  Louis 
Riel,  the  murder  of  Thomas  Scott — and  I 
shall  not  allude  to  these  events  further  than 
to  say  that  they  gave  Sir  John  Macdonald 
the  occasion  of  meeting,  for  the  first  time,  the 
future  Lord  Strathcona.  It  happened  in  this 
way.  When  news  of  the  outbreak  on  the 
Red  River  reached  Ottawa,  George  Stephen — 
between  whom  and  Sir  John  Macdonald  there 
existed  a  warm  friendship  even  then — wrote 
to  Sir  John  to  say  that  he  thought  he  knew  a 
man  well  qualified  to  act  as  a  peacemaker  at 
Fort  Garry  if  he  would  undertake  the  mission. 
This  was  Donald  A.  Smith,  chief  factor  of  the 
Hudson's  Bay  Company  in  Montreal.  Armed 
with  a  letter  of  introduction  to  Macdonald 
from  Stephen,  Smith  went  to  Ottawa.  I  give 
three  brief  extracts  from  Sir  John's  corre- 
spondence of  the  time. 

I  was  very  glad  to  see  Mr  Smith,  who 


seems  a  clever  man ;  at  the  same  time 
I  am  exceedingly  disappointed  at  the 
apparent  helplessness  of  the  Hudson's  Bay 
authorities.  Mr  Smith  has  nothing  to 
suggest,  and  they  seem  to  have  been  utterly 
neglectful  at  Red  River  of  their  duty  in 
preparing  the  people  for  the  change.* 

Your  friend  Donald  A.  Smith  is  rather 
lucky.  He  will  go  up  there  on  an  im- 
portant mission,  will  succeed  beyond  a 
doubt,  and  get  a  good  deal  of  praise 

Smith  left  this  morning  with  full  powers 
and  instructions.  He  seemed  to  think 
that  he  would  be  able  to  do  good  there. 
It  would  never  have  done  for  Colonel 
Wolseley  to  have  gone  with  him.  Smith 
goes  to  carry  the  olive  branch,  and  were  it 
known  at  Red  River  that  he  was  accom- 
panied by  an  officer  high  in  rank  in  the 
military  service,  he  would  be  looked  upon 
as  having  the  olive  branch  in  one  hand  and 
a  revolver  in  the  other.| 

*  From  Sir  John  Macdonald  to  George  Stephen,  dated  Ottawa, 
December  i,  1869. 

t  From  the  same  to  the  same,  dated  Ottawa,  December  9,  1869. 
?  From  the  same  to  the  same,  dated  Ottawa,  December  13, 1869. 


Smith's  mission,  however,  did  not  prove 
effective,  and  it  became  necessary  later  to 
send  Colonel  (afterwards  Lord)  Wolseley  with 
a  military  expedition  to  the  Red  River.  It 
may  not  be  generally  known  that  after  the 
troubles  were  over,  Colonel  Wolseley  intimated 
his  willingness  to  accept  the  position  of 
lieutenant-governor  of  the  newly  created  pro- 
vince of  Manitoba.  The  appointment  of  a 
military  man  to  the  civil  office  of  lieutenant- 
governor  was  not,  however,  considered  ex- 
pedient just  then,  and,  fortunately  for  the 
future  viscount,  he  was  passed  over  in  favour 
of  Adams  Archibald. 

Shortly  after  these  events  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald,  overcome  by  the  fatigues  and  re- 
sponsibilities of  his  office,  fell  ill,  and  for 
several  months  in  the  summer  of  1870  the 
duties  of  the  first  minister  were  discharged  by 
Sir  George  Cartier.  Scarcely  had  Sir  John 
resumed  his  tasks  when  he  was  appointed  a 
member  of  the  Joint  High  Commission — 
named  to  adjust  all  differences  between  Great 
Britain  and  the  United  States — which  re- 
sulted in  the  Treaty  of  Washington,  1871.  In 
another  volume  I  have  related,*  mainly  in  his 
own  words,  the  story  of  his  strenuous  fight 
*  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  vol.  ii,  pp.  85-140. 


for  Canadian  interests  on  that  memorable 
occasion.  Few  more  interesting  diplomatic 
memoirs  were  ever  penned  than  the  pages 
in  which  Macdonald  recounts  from  day  to  day 
his  efforts  to  discharge  his  duties  to  the 
Empire  as  Her  Majesty 's  plenipotentiary,  and 
at  the  same  time  to  protect  and  defend  the 
special  interests  of  Canada.  That  he  upheld 
Imperial  interests  was  never  questioned,  but 
he  was  accused  by  some  of  his  political 
opponents  at  the  time  of  having  done  so  at 
the  expense  of  Canada.  It  was  alleged  that 
he  had  sacrificed  the  fisheries  to  enable  Her 
Majesty's  government  to  come  to  terms  with 
the  United  States.  In  this,  as  in  many  other 
matters,  time  has  amply  vindicated  his 

The  treaty — in  regard  to  which  he  had 
apprehensions — received  the  sanction  of  the 
Canadian  House  of  Commons  by  a  vote  of 
more  than  two  to  one.  At  the  ensuing  general 
election  the  province  of  Nova  Scotia  —  the 
home  of  Canadian  fishermen — ratified  Mac- 
donald's  policy  by  returning  twenty  mem- 
bers out  of  twenty-one  in  its  support.  It 
is  clear  that  he  had  not  sacrificed  Canadian 
interests,  for  wheii  the  Fishery  Articles  were 
terminated  in  1885,  it  was  not  by  desire  of 


Great  Britain  or  of  Canada,  but  by  the  action 
of  the  United  States. 

The  summer  of  1871  was  marked  by  the 
admission  of  British  Columbia  into  the  Con- 
federation. By  the  terms  of  this  union 
Canada  was  pledged  to  construct  a  railway 
to  the  Pacific  within  ten  years.  This  was 
strenuously  objected  to  by  the  parliamentary 
Opposition.  It  was  an  obligation,  the  Liberals 
said,  that  would  press  with  crushing  severity 
upon  the  people  of  Canada.  They  argued 
that  in  contracting  to  build  the  road  in  ten 
years  the  Government  had  committed  Canada 
to  an  undertaking  greatly  beyond  its  re- 
sources ;  indeed,  to  a  physical  impossibility. 

In  December  of  the  same  year  the  Govern- 
ment in  Ontario  led  by  Sandfield  Macdonald 
was  defeated  in  the  legislature  and  compelled 
to  resign.  An  Administration,  determinedly 
hostile  to  the  Ottawa  Government,  was  formed 
at  Toronto  under  Edward  Blake.  The  On- 
tario Orangemen  were  filled  with  anger  at 
the  brutal  murder  of  Thomas  Scott  by  Louis 
Riel  at  Fort  Garry  and  the  failure  of  the 
Government  at  Ottawa  to  seize  the  murderer. 
The  anti-confederate  feeling  was  still  strong 
in  Nova  Scotia.  There  was  dissatisfaction 
over  the  appointment  of  Sir  Francis  Hincks. 


In  many  quarters  the  Washington  Treaty  was 
unpopular.  All  this  hostility  Macdonald  had 
to  face,  as  well  as  the  strenuous  opposition 
of  the  Liberal  party.  It  was  under  these 
untoward  circumstances  that  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald advised  the  dissolution  of  the  House 
of  Commons  and  appealed  to  the  people  in 
the  summer  of  1872.  His  feelings  on  the  eve 
of  the  battle  are  thus  expressed  in  a  letter  to 
Sir  John  Rose : 

I  am,  as  you  may  fancy,  exceedingly 
desirous  of  carrying  the  election  again  ; 
not  with  any  personal  object,  because  I 
am  weary  of  the  whole  thing,  but  Con- 
federation is  only  yet  in  the  gristle,  and 
it  will  require  five  years  more  before  it 
hardens  into  bone. 

It  is  only  by  the  exercise  of  constant  pru- 
dence and  moderation  that  we  have  been 
able  to  prevent  the  discordant  elements 
from  ending  in  a  blow-up.  If  good  Con- 
stitutional men  are  returned,  I  think  that 
at  the  end  of  five  years  the  Dominion  may 
be  considered  safe  from  being  prejudiced 
by  any  internal  dissension.* 

*  From  Sir  John  Macdonald  to  Sir  John  Rose,  dated  Ottawa, 
March  5,  1872. 


The  fight  in  Ontario  proved  very  severe,  as 
may  be  gathered  from  his  subsequent  account : 

I  had  to  fight  a  stern  and  up-hill  battle 
in  Ontario,  and  had  I  not  taken  regularly 
to  the  stump,  a  thing  that  I  have  never 
done  before,  we  should  have  been  com- 
pletely routed.  The  chief  ground  of  attack 
on  the  Government  was  the  Washington 
Treaty,  and  our  submitting  to  Gladstone's 
resolve  not  to  press  the  Fenian  claims. 
Added  to  this,  of  course,  were  all  the  sins 
of  omission  and  commission  that  gather 
round  an  administration  of  so  many  years' 
duration  as  ours. 

I  never  worked  so  hard  before,  and  never 
shall  do  so  again ;  but  I  felt  it  to  be 
necessary  this  time.  I  did  not  want  a 
verdict  against  the  treaty  from  the  country, 
and  besides,  I  sincerely  believe  that  the 
advent  of  the  Opposition,  as  it  is  now  con- 
stituted, to  power  would  greatly  damage 
the  future  of  Confederation.  That  Opposi- 
tion has  much  deteriorated  since  you  left 
Canada.  Poor  Sandfield  is  gone  ;  Brown 
is  out  of  public  life,  or  rather  out  of  Parlia- 
ment ;  Blake,  who  is  a  gentleman  by  birth 
and  education,  has  broken  down  in  health  ; 


Dorion  has  all  but  retired  from  public  life, 
and  was  elected  against  his  will  and  in  his 
absence  ;  and  the  rest,  with  one  or  two 
exceptions,  are  a  very  inferior  lot.* 

In  spite  of  Sir  John's  efforts  the  Government 
lost  ground  heavily.  Sir  Francis  Hincks 
suffered  defeat  in  South  Brant,  and  Sir 
George  Cartier  in  East  Montreal.  What  Sir 
Richard  Cartwright  used  to  call  '  the  shreds 
and  patches  of  the  Dominion  ' — the  Maritime 
Provinces  and  British  Columbia— did  very 
well  for  the  Conservatives,  but,  taking  it  alto- 
gether, it  was  plain  that  the  Government  had 
sustained  a  severe  check. 

The  Opposition,  alive  to  their  improved 
chances,  assembled  in  full  force  at  the  session 
of  1873,  under  the  leadership  of  Alexander 
Mackenzie.  In  order  to  render  more  effective 
service  to  his  party  at  Ottawa,  Edward  Blake 
resigned  office  as  prime  minister  of  Ontario  in 
favour  of  Oliver  Mowat.  All  along  he  had  held 
a  seat  in  the  House  of  Commons,  for  those 
were  days  of  dual  representation,  when  there 
was  nothing  to  prevent  a  man  from  sitting 
in  both  a  provincial  House  and  the  House 
of  Commons.  This  several  leading  men  did. 

*  To  the  Viscount  Monck,  dated  Ottawa,  October  n,  1872. 

Age  57 


It  will  be  readily  understood,  however,  that 
the  office  of  prime  minister  of  Ontario  would 
materially  interfere  with  the  duties  of  a  lead- 
ing member  of  the  Opposition  at  Ottawa. 
With  large  reinforcements  and  a  feeling  of 
confidence,  the  Opposition  gathered  for  the 
fray,  determined,  if  possible,  to  compass  the 
overthrow  of  the  Macdonald  Government. 
Fortune  favoured  the  design,  for  in  the  session 
of  1873  occurred  what  has  come  to  be  com- 
monly known  as  the  '  Pacific  Scandal.' 

Briefly  stated,  the  charge  involved  in  the 
Pacific  Scandal  was  this  :  that  the  Govern- 
ment had  corruptly  granted  to  Sir  Hugh  Allan 
and  his  associates  the  charter  for  the  building 
of  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway,  in  considera- 
tion of  a  large  sum  of  money  supplied  by  him 
for  election  purposes.  In  a  letter  addressed 
to  Lord  Dufferin,  which  has  been  before  the 
public  for  twenty  years,  Sir  John  Macdonald 
completely  answered  this  accusation.* 

*  For  the  full  text  of  this  letter  see  Pope's  Memoirs  of  Sir  John 
Macdonald,  vol.  ii,  pp.  174-89.     In  it  Macdonald  points  out : 

1.  That  Canada  was  under  bonds  to  construct  a  railway  from 
(say)  Montreal  to  the  Pacific. 

2.  That  the  House  of  Commons  in  the  session  of  1871,  during 
his  absence  in  Washington,  carried  a  resolution,  at  the  instiga- 
tion of  the  Opposition,  obliging  the  Government  to  build  the  road 
through  the  agency  of  an  incorporated  company. 

3.  That  two  rival  companies— one  under  Sir  Hugh  Allan  in 

D.J.M.  G 


In  the  light  of  all  that  has  happened  in  the 
last  forty  years,  it  is  difficult  to  repress  a 
smile  when  reading  the  impassioned  invectives 
poured  out  upon  Sir  John  Macdonald  by  his 
political  opponents  of  that  day  in  connection 
with  the  Pacific  Scandal.  According  to  them 
he  had  basely  betrayed  his  country,  selling 
her  honour  for  filthy  lucre  ;  he  had  shamefully 
prostituted  his  office  ;  he  was  a  great  criminal 
for  whose  punishment  justice  cried  aloud,  and 
much  more  to  the  same  effect.  Yet  every  one 
who  dispassionately  considers  the  affair  to- 
day in  its  true  perspective  sees  quite  plainly 
that,  however  indiscreetly  he  acted  in  his  re- 
Montreal,  and  the  other  under  Mr  David  Macpherson  in  Toronto 
—were  formed  with  the  object  of  securing  the  charter. 

4.  That  the  Government,  with  a  view  to  removing  the  great 
sectional  jealousies  which  had  developed  between  the  provinces 
of  Ontario  and  Quebec,  in  relation  to  this  matter,  endeavoured 
to  secure  the  amalgamation  of  these  two  companies. 

5.  That  while  these  negotiations  were  going  forward,  the 
general  elections  of  1872  came  on,  and,  among  others,  Sir  Hugh 
Allan,  as  he  had  done  previously  for  many  years,  subscribed 
largely  to  the  Conservative  election  fund. 

6.  That  Sir  Hugh  Allan  was  told  before  he  subscribed  a 
farthing  that  his  railway  company  would  not  get  the  privilege 
of  building  the  railway.     He  was  informed  that  the  work  would 
only  be  entrusted  to  an  amalgamated  company,  under  the  terms 
of  the  Act  passed  in  parliament ;  that  such  amalgamation  would 
be  effected  on  terms  fair  to  the  provinces  of  Ontario  and  Quebec, 
as  agreed  upon  between  the  representatives  of  the  two  rival 
companies,  and  that  such  amalgamation  would  take  place  only 
after  the  elections. 


lations  with  Sir  Hugh  Allan,  Sir  John's  sole 
thought  was  for  the  advantage  of  Canada. 
In  the  face  of  great  difficulties  he  had  carried 
Confederation,  had  pacified  Nova  Scotia,  had 
brought  Manitoba,  British  Columbia,  and 
Prince  Edward  Island  into  the  Union  ;  and 
in  order  that  this  Union  should  abide,  he  was 
putting  forth  all  his  energies  for  the  con- 
struction of  the  great  link  that  was  to  hold  the 
distant  provinces  together. 

In  all  these  matters  he  had  to  encounter 
at  every  step  the  rancorous  opposition  of  his 
political  adversaries.  It  is,  therefore,  not 
surprising  that  he  attached  much  importance 
to  the  general  elections  of  1872.  He  had  no 
personal  ambitions  unfulfilled — he  was  weary 
of  it  all — but  he  entertained  a  profound 

7.  That  under  the  powers  vested  in  them  by  the  Act,  the 
Government  issued  a  royal  charter  in  which  they  gave  the  pre- 
ponderance of  interest  to  the  province  of  Ontario,  according  to 
population.  They  gave  a  fair  representation  to  every  one  of  the 
other  provinces,  and  of  the  thirteen  shareholders  and  directors 
of  which  the  company  was  composed,  only  one  was  the  nominee 
or  the  special  choice  of  Sir  Hugh  Allan.  The  others  were 
elected  without  the  slightest  reference  to  him ;  some  of  them 
against  his  most  strenuous  opposition,  and  they  included  three 
of  the  incorporators  of  the  Ontario  company,  two  of  whom  had 
been  directors  in  that  company.  In  that  charter  there  were  no 
advantages  given,  nor  could  they  be  given,  by  the  Government. 
Parliament  had  decided  what  the  subsidy  in  money  and  land 
should  be,  and  that  was  given  and  no  more. 

ioo          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

conviction  that  to  confide  the  destinies  of 
Canada  to  men  who,  among  other  things,  were 
opposing  the  building  of  the  Canadian  Pacific 
Railway  by  every  means  in  their  power, 
would  be  to  undo  the  great  work  to  which  he 
had  set  his  hand  and  to  disrupt  the  Con- 
federation. '  With  five  years  more/  he  writes, 
'  I  thought  we  might  safely  consider  that  the 
gristle  had  hardened  into  bone,  and  that  the 
Union  had  been  thoroughly  cemented.'  And 
so  we  find  him,  though  far  from  strong,  throw- 
ing himself  with  vigour  into  the  elections  of 
1872,  and,  his  colleagues  being  everywhere  hard 
pressed,  himself  doing  much  that  might  better 
have  been  confided  to  others.  Every  oneknows, 
to  use  the  expression  of  the  late  Israel  Tarte, 
that  '  elections  are  not  made  with  prayers.' 
Every  one  knows,  and  it  is  mere  hypocrisy  to 
disclaim  the  knowledge,  that  there  are  elec- 
tion funds  in  both  parties,  to  which  wealthy 
friends  of  the  respective  parties  are  invited  to 
contribute.  Sir  John's  mistake  was  in  asking 
favours  of  a  man  who  at  that  time  was  seek- 
ing advantages  from  the  Government.  No 
matter  how  sure  he  might  be  of  his  own  recti- 
tude, it  was  setting  a  dangerous  precedent  for  a 
weaker  man,  who  might  be  placed  in  his  posi- 
tion, to  follow.  No  doubt,  too,  he  would  have 


clone  better  not  to  have  mixed  himself  up  with 
money  matters  at  all,  though  in  acting  as  he 
did  he  only  followed  the  usual  practice.  In 
that  day  the  leaders  of  political  parties  in 
Canada  personally  solicited  campaign  funds.* 
Macdonald  took  contributions  from  the  rich 
men  of  his  party — among  others  from  Sir 
Hugh  Allan — to  fight  that  party's  battles. 
But  there  was  no  barter.  Sir  Hugh  Allan  was, 
of  course,  playing  his  own  game.  His  motive 
is  quite  apparent.  He  wanted  to  build  the 
Pacific  Railway,  and  was  naturally  interested 
in  preventing  the  accession  to  power  of  men 
opposed  to  the  whole  scheme  as  premature 
and  beyond  the  resources  of  the  country. 

What  seems  plain  now  was  not  so  apparent 
forty  years  ago.     The  current  set  in  strongly 

*  At  that  very  time  George  Brown  was  writing  thus  to  a 
leading  banker  in  Toronto : 

TORONTO,  August  15,  1872. 

MY  DEAR  SIR,— The  fight  goes  bravely  on.  ...  We  have 
expended  our  strength  in  aiding  outlying  counties  and  helping 
our  city  candidates.  But  a  big  push  has  to  be  made  on  Saturday 
and  Monday  for  the  East  and  West  divisions.  .  .  .  We  there- 
fore make  our  grand  stand  on  Saturday.  There  are  but  half  a 
dozen  people  that  can  come  down  handsomely,  and  we  have 
done  all  we  possibly  can  do,  and  we  have  to  ask  a  few  outsiders 
to  aid  us.  Will  you  be  one  ?  I  have  been  urged  to  write  you, 
and  comply  accordingly.  Things  look  well  all  over  the  Pro- 
vince. .  .  .  Things  look  bright  in  Quebec. — Faithfully  yours, 


102          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

against  the  Ministry.  As  Mr  S.  H.  Blake 
would  say,  '  There  was  the  sound  of  a  going  in 
the  tops  of  the  mulberry  trees.'  There  was  a 
general  feeling  that  the  days  of  the  Govern- 
ment were  numbered.  The  country  was  ripe 
for  a  change.  The  Conservatives  had  been  in 
office  for  nearly  ten  years  consecutively,  and 
people  were  beginning  to  get  a  little  tired  of 
them.  Men  began  to  think  that  it  was  time 
to  give  the  other  side  a  chance.  Long  periods 
of  exclusion  from  office  of  the  representatives 
of  nearly  one-half  the  community  is  not  good 
for  the  Opposition,  for  the  state,  nor  for  the 
dominant  party  itself.  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
at  a  later  period,  seems  to  have  recognized 
this,  for  one  of  his  letters,  written  to  a  friend 
on  the  eve  of  the  contest  of  1887,  contains  the 
significant  words,  '  the  Government  is  too  old/ 
It  was  not  as  old  as  was  his  Government  at 
its  resignation  in  1873.  However  that  may 
be,  amid  shrieks  of  '  corruption  '  the  Adminis- 
tration of  Sir  John  Macdonald  bowed  to 
public  opinion,  and  the  Liberals  at  last  got 
their  chance. 

In  the  general  elections,  which  took  place 
in  the  month  of  January  1874,  the  newly 
formed  Mackenzie  Government  swept  the 
country,  returning  with  a  majority  of  seventy- 


five  or  upwards.  Among  the  new  members 
was  Mr  (now  Sir  Wilfrid)  Laurier. 

Alexander  Mackenzie,  the  prime  minister, 
like  his  predecessor,  was  a  Scotsman  by  birth. 
Like  Sir  John  Macdonald,  too,  he  had  emi- 
grated to  Canada  at  an  early  age  and  had 
settled  first  at  Kingston,  subsequently  re- 
moving to  Sarnia.  In  1861  he  entered  parlia- 
ment as  member  for  Lambton,  and  took  rank 
from  the  first  as  a  strong  and  effective  debater 
on  the  side  of  the  Opposition.  In  office  he 
proved  a  capable  administrator  of  unimpeach- 
able integrity,  with  a  remarkable  capacity 
for  labour.  It  could  not  be  said  of  him,  how- 
ever, that  he  possessed  the  essential  qualities 
of  a  leader.  Not  only  was  he  destitute  of 
that  mysterious  personal  attribute  known  as 
'  magnetism,'  but  he  was  disposed  to  be 
arbitrary  and  dictatorial.  His  political  sup- 
porters respected  and  perhaps  feared  him, 
but  it  cannot  be  said  that  he  was  popular 
among  them. 

Goldwin  Smith  was  once  driving  a  newly 
arrived  English  friend  through  the  streets 
of  Toronto  at  the  time  Mackenzie  was  in 
the  zenith  of  his  power.  When  passing 
Mackenzie's  house  he  remarked  the  fact. 
*  And  who  is  Mr  Mackenzie  ?  '  inquired  the 

104          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

friend.  '  Mr  Mackenzie/  replied  Goldwin 
Smith,  '  was  a  stonemason  ;  he  is  a  stone- 
mason still.9 

This,  of  course,  was  not  fair.  Mackenzie, 
despite  his  narrowness,  rigidity,  faults  of 
manner,  and  perhaps  of  temper,  was  an  able 
man.  No  fairer  was  Goldwin  Smith's  cynical 
observation  that  the  alliance  between  Mac- 
donald  and  Brown  in  1864  was  '  as  brief  and 
perfidious  as  a  harlot's  love ' ;  but  nobody 
— at  any  rate,  no  Canadian  public  man — 
ever  looked  for  fairness  from  Goldwin  Smith, 
whose  idea  of  independence  seemed  to  consist 
of  being  alternately  unjust  to  each  side. 
Both  sayings,  however,  are  extremely  clever, 
and  both  had  sufficient  truth  about  them  to 
give  point  at  once  to  the  author's  male- 
volence and  to  his  wit. 

A  man  of  very  different  mould  from  that 
of  the  Liberal  leader  was  his  nominal  follower 
Edward  Blake,  one  of  the  rarest  minds  that 
have  adorned  the  bar  of  Canada  or  of  any 
other  country.  Blake  was  not  merely  a  great 
equity  lawyer ;  he  was,  as  well,  a  distin- 
guished authority  on  the  principles  of  govern- 
ment. Viewed  as  intellectual  performances,  his 
speeches  in  the  Canadian  House  of  Commons 
have  never  been  surpassed.  But  to  his  great 


gifts  were  joined  great  weaknesses,  among 
which  may  be  set  down  an  abnormal  sensitive- 
ness. He  was  peculiarly  susceptible  to  the 
daily  annoyances  which  beset  a  public  man. 
So  marked  was  this  infirmity  that  men  with- 
out a  tithe  of  his  ability,  but  with  a  better 
adjusted  nervous  system,  would  sometimes 
presume  to  torment  him  just  for  the  fun  of  the 
thing.  While  he  was  minister  of  Justice,  poli- 
tical exigencies  compelled  Mackenzie  to  take 
into  his  Cabinet  a  man  who,  by  reason  of  his 
unsavoury  political  record,  was  eminently  dis- 
tasteful to  Blake.  This  man  knew  perfectly 
well  that  the  great  lawyer  was  not  proud  of 
the  association,  but  being  as  thick-skinned  as 
Blake  was  sensitive,  he  rather  enjoyed  his 
colleague's  discomfort.  He  was  known  to 
go  into  Blake's  office  on  a  short  winter's 
afternoon,  and,  standing  with  his  back  to  the 
fire  in  a  free  and  easy  attitude  as  though 
perfectly  at  home,  to  say,  '  Well,  mon  cher 
collegue y  (here  Blake  would  visibly  writhe,  to 
the  equally  apparent  delight  of  the  intruder), 
*  I  have  called  for  you  to  come  for  a  walk  with 
me.'  '  My  good  sir,'  Blake  would  tartly 
reply,  '  I  have  work  here  that  will  keep  me  for 
the  next  two  hours.'  '  But  it  will  be  dark 
then/  objected  the  caller.  *  Well,  my  good 

106          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

sir,'  was  the  retort, c  we  can  walk  in  the  dark,  I 
suppose  ' — which  Blake  would  naturally  much 
prefer.  Edward  Blake's  outward  bearing  was 
cold  and  unsympathetic.  He  was  often  re- 
pellent to  those  desiring  to  be  his  friends. 
Intimates  he  appeared  to  have  none:  he 
would  not  allow  people  to  be  intimate  with 
him.  He  would  hardly  even,  when  leader  of 
the  Opposition,  accept  the  co-operation  of  his 
supporters  or  allow  them  a  share  in  his  labours. 
So  exacting  was  his  standard  that  he  felt  no 
one  would  do  the  work  as  well  as  himself,  and 
any  one  who  proffered  assistance  was  likely  to 
get  a  snub  for  his  pains.  Whenever  he  spoke 
in  the  House  of  Commons,  he  so  exhausted 
his  subject  that  there  was  nothing  left  for  his 
followers  to  say — an  impolitic  course  for  a 
leader.  Yet  it  was  impossible,  such  is  the 
compelling  power  of  genius,  to  withhold 
admiration  for  that  lonely  and  impressive 
figure  whose  external  bearing  spoke  so  plainly 
of  the  intellectual  force  within.  I  had  the 
honour  of  only  a  slight  personal  acquaintance 
with  Blake,  yet  I  never  recall  his  memory 
without  a  tinge  of  sadness  that  so  gifted  a 
man  should  not  have  accomplished  more  in  the 
way  of  constructive  statesmanship.  Before 
the  age  of  forty  he  was  prime  minister  of 


Ontario,  but  within  a  twelvemonth  he  gave 
it  up  to  devote  his  attention  to  federal  politics. 
When  the  Liberal  party  succeeded  to  power 
in  1873,  men  thought  that  Blake's  opportunity 
had  at  last  arrived,  and  it  was  learned  with 
surprise  that  he  had  not  taken  a  portfolio  in 
the  new  Administration.  He  had,  however, 
a  seat  in  the  Cabinet,  but  this  he  resigned 
within  three  months.  In  1875  he  re-entered 
the  Cabinet  as  minister  of  Justice.  But, 
beyond  writing  a  few  masterly  dispatches  on 
the  pardoning  power  and  obtaining  certain 
modifications  in  the  governor-generaPs  in- 
structions in  that  regard,  he  does  not  appear 
to  have  accomplished  much  during  his  tenure 
of  office.  The  bill  establishing  the  Supreme 
Court,  passed  about  this  time,  was  the  work 
primarily  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  and  was 
piloted  through  the  House  of  Commons  by 
Telesphore  Fournier,  Blake's  immediate  pre- 
decessor in  the  department  of  Justice.  Early 
in  1878  Blake  again  left  the  Cabinet,  and  he 
was  not  even  in  the  country  during  the  elec- 
tions of  that  year  which  overwhelmed  his 
late  colleagues.  He  became  leader  of  the  Op- 
position after  the  retirement  of  Mackenzie  in 
1880,  but  resigned  the  post  after  his  failure 
to  carry  the  elections  of  1887,  He  afterwards 

io8          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

went  to  Great  Britain,  and  became  a  Nation- 
alist member  from  Ireland  of  the  House  of 
Commons.  For  fifteen  years  his  great  talents 
lay  obscured  at  Westminster  in  the  shadows 
of  Parnell  and  Redmond.  Broken  in  health, 
he  finally  returned  to  his  native  country  ;  but 
it  was  only  to  die. 

But  if  Blake 's  mind  was  not  of  the  construc- 
tive order,  his  critical  and  analytical  faculties 
were  highly  developed.  Always  effective,  often 
trenchant,  sometimes  cruel,  his  powers  of 
sarcasm  and  invective  were  unrivalled.  Once, 
when  a  former  minister  of  Inland  Revenue, 
not  remarkable  for  his  knowledge  of  the 
affairs  of  his  department,  had  proposed  a 
resolution  to  the  effect  that  a  barrel  should 
no  longer  be  considered  a  measure  of  capa- 
city, Blake  offered  an  amendment  to  the 
effect  that  '  in  future  the  office  of  Cabinet 
minister  be  no  longer  considered  a  measure 
of  capacity  !  '  Again,  in  one  of  his  orations 
against  the  building  of  the  Canadian  Pacific 
Railway,  he  prefaced  a  minute  and  exhaus- 
tive narration  of  events  connected  with  the 
enterprise  in  these  words  :  *  Mr  Speaker,  on 
the  first  of  April — a  fitting  day — in  the  year 
1871,  .  .  .'  That  was  his  estimate  of  the 
project  as  late  as  the  early  eighties. 


During  Blake's  period  of  office  an  old  and 
faithful  official  of  his  department,  who  rather 
prided  himself  upon  his  discrimination  in  the 
use  of  words,  wrote  on  a  file  of  papers,  '  Re- 
ferred to  the  Minister  for  his  instructions.' 
When  this  came  before  Blake,  he  wrote  under- 
neath the  memorandum :  '  My  officers  do  not 
refer  matters  to  me ;  they  submit  them. — E.B.' 
It  is  due  to  Blake  to  say  that,  when  leaving 
the  department,  he  called  for  this  file  and 
expunged  these  words  with  his  own  hand. 

Sometimes,  however,  he  was  in  lighter  vein, 
and,  indeed,  I  have  known  him  to  betray  a 
transient  gleam  of  humour.  One  day  a  letter, 
the  envelope  addressed  to  Blake,  was  left  at 
'  Earnscliffe,'  Macdonald's  Ottawa  residence. 
The  letter  inside,  however,  as  appeared  later, 
was  addressed  to  Sir  John  Macdonald.  Igno- 
rant, of  course,  of  this  fact,  Macdonald  sent  it 
to  Blake,  who  returned  it  with  this  note  : 

COBOURG,  June  2&tht  1889. 

MY  DEAR  SIR, — Thanks  for  the  mysteri- 
ous package,  which,  however,  I  return, 
perceiving  that  in  this,  as  in  some  other 
cases,  if  I  have  a  better  title  to  the  shell, 
you  have  the  better  title  to  the  oyster. 

It  is  a  curious  example  of  the  workings 

no          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

of  the  mind  and  of  the  phraseology  of  a 
deaf  mute.  It  is  a  sad  sort  of  letter,  and  I 
intend  to  write  to  Jones  to  enquire  if  any- 
thing can  be  done  for  the  poor  creature. 
Yours  faithfully, 


Here  we  get  a  glimpse  of  the  really  kind  and 
generous  heart  that  beat  under  the  chilling 
exterior  of  Edward  Blake. 

In  the  year  1875  there  occurred  in  Montreal 
an  event  which  caused  a  good  deal  of  ill-feeling 
between  the  English  and  French  sections  of 
the  population  throughout  the  province  of 
Quebec.  This  was  the  epilogue  of  the  famous 
Guibord  case.  Joseph  Guibord  was  a  mem- 
ber of  a  society  known  as  V Institut  Cana- 
dien.  In  1858  the  Roman  Catholic  bishop  of 
Montreal  issued  a  pastoral  letter  exhorting 
the  members  of  this  institute  to  purge  their 
library  of  certain  works  regarded  as  immoral, 
and  decreeing  several  penalties,  including 
deprivation  of  the  sacraments  and  refusal  of 
ecclesiastical  burial,  in  the  event  of  disobedi- 
ence. The  library  committee  returned  a  reply 
to  the  effect  that  they  were  the  judges  of 
the  morality  of  their  books,  and,  further,  that 
there  were  no  immoral  works  in  their  library. 


The  matter  appears  to  have  lain  dormant  for 
some  years.  In  1865  several  members  of  the 
Institute,  including  Guibord,  appealed  to 
Rome  against  the  action  of  the  bishop,  but 
in  vain.  Shortly  afterwards  Guibord  died, 
and  as  he  had  adhered  to  his  membership  in 
the  Institute  despite  the  bishop's  mandement, 
ecclesiastical  burial  was  refused.  His  widow 
had  recourse  to  the  law,  and  ultimately  the 
Judicial  Committee  of  the  Privy  Council 
ordered  the  burial  of  Guibord's  remains  in 
the  Roman  Catholic  cemetery.  The  reasons 
upon  which  this  judgment  is  based  are  that 
the  Church  of  Rome  in  the  province  of  Quebec, 
while  lacking  some  of  the  features  of  an  estab- 
lished church,  differs  materially  before  the 
law  from  voluntary  religious  bodies ;  that 
certain  privileges,  such  as  the  right  to  collect 
tithes,  secured  to  it  by  law,  beget  correspond- 
ing obligations  towards  the  laity.  One  obliga- 
tion is  to  give  ecclesiastical  sepulchre  to  its 
members.  The  proceedings  against  Guibord 
had  been  legally  insufficient  to  deprive  him 
of  this  right ;  he  had  not  been  excommuni- 
cated personally  and  by  name,  but  merely  lay 
under  a  general  excommunication. 

The  first  attempts  of  Guibord's  friends  to 
bury    the    body    in    accordance    with    this 

fi2y         SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

decision  were  frustrated  by  force ;  but  on 
November  16,  1875,  under  a  strong  military 
escort,  the  remains  of  Joseph  Guibord  were 
finally  laid  to  rest  in  the  Cote  des  Neiges 
cemetery,  in  the  presence  of  a  sullen  assem- 
blage. This  forcible,  albeit  legal,  proceeding 
was  deeply  felt  by  many  who  needed  not  to 
take  lessons  in  loyalty  to  the  Queen  from  the 
members  of  the  Institut  Canadien,  but  who 
could  not  see  why  the  Church  of  Rome  should 
be  debarred  the  right,  supposed  to  appertain 
to  every  society,  of  determining  its  own  con- 
ditions of  membership,  nor  understand  why 
the  friends  of  a  man  should  seek  on  his  behalf, 
after  his  death,  the  ministrations  of  that 
Church  whose  teachings,  during  his  lifetime, 
he  had  voluntarily  despised. 

The  Liberal  Government  came  to  power  in 
1873  at  a  time  of  commercial  depression  ex- 
tending over  the  whole  continent.  Canada 
suffered  severely  ;  and  so  did  the  Ministry. 
Business  was  bad,  the  revenues  fell  off,  em- 
ployment became  scarce.  It  was  during  this 
period  that  the  Conservative  Opposition  be- 
gan the  advocacy  of  what  was  called  *  The 
National  Policy '  —  a  system  of  modified 
protection  which  it  was  hoped  would  both 
stimulate  the  industries  of  the  country  and 


provide  a  sufficient  revenue.  Protection  was 
no  new  policy  with  Sir  John  Macdonald.  As 
long  before  as  in  1846  he  had  advocated  it 
from  his  place  in  parliament.  In  1850  he 
belonged  to  an  association  which  had  as  one 
of  its  aims  a  '  commercial  national  policy/  In 
1858  he  was  joint-leader  of  a  Government 
whose  finance  minister  (Gait)  announced  pro- 
tection to  native  industries  as  its  policy.  In 
1 86 1  he  at  various  times  and  places  expounded 
and  developed  this  policy.  Lastly,  on  the 
eve  of  the  general  elections  of  1872,  he  wrote 
to  the  present  Lord  Mount  Stephen  : 

At  the  hustings  in  Western  Canada 
[Ontario]  and  in  all  the  constituencies 
except  Toronto,  the  battle  will  be  between 
free  trade  and  a  national  policy.  ...  It 
is  really  astonishing  the  feeling  that  has 
grown  up  in  the  West  [he  is  referring  to 
Western  Ontario]  in  favour  of  encourage- 
ment of  home  manufactures. 

In  1876  the  time  was  opportune  for  promoting 
this  policy.  Trade  was  depressed,  manu- 
factures languished,  and  the  Canadian  people 
as  producers  only  of  raw  material  were  fast 
becoming  hewers  of  wood  and  drawers  of 
water  for  their  more  opulent  neighbours  in 

D.J.M.  H 


the  United  States.  On  March  10  of  that  year 
Sir  John  Macdonald  propounded  to  the  House 
of  Commons  his  scheme  for  improving  the 
commerce  of  the  country.  His  proposals 
were  contemptuously  received  by  the  Govern- 
ment. The  prime  minister,  while  admitting  the 
serious  character  of  the  depression  then  pre- 
vailing, attributed  the  cause  wholly  to  cir- 
cumstances beyond  their  control,  and  denied 
the  power  of  any  government  to  remove  it  by 
legislation.  They  would  have  nothing  to  do 
with  protection,  which  Mackenzie  ridiculed 
as  an  attempt  to  relieve  distress  by  imposing 
additional  taxation. 

*  Sir  John  thought  differently.  If  he  had 
done  nothing  else,  his  '  National  Policy '  cam- 
paign would  have  stamped  him  as  a  leader 
of  men.  In  the  words  of  a  political  opponent 
of  the  time,  '  he  constructed  with  consummate 
skill  the  engine  which  destroyed  the  Mackenzie 
Administration.  From  the  very  first  he  saw 
what  a  tactician  would  do  with  Protection, 
and  in  so  masterly  a  manner  did  he  cover  his 
troops  with  that  rampart,  that  it  was  im- 
possible for  the  Liberals  to  turn  their  flank/ 
His  political  picnics  in  1876  and  1877,  and 
the  enthusiasm  he  everywhere  aroused,  were 
long  remembered,  and  are  not  forgotten  to 


this  day  by  older  men.  '  Everywhere  crowds 
gathered  to  his  support,  and  the  country  im- 
patiently waited  the  opportunity  to  restore 
him  to  his  old  position  at  the  head  of  affairs. 
At  length  the  fateful  day  arrived,  and  on 
September  17,  1878,  the  people  of  Canada 
declared  by  an  overwhelming  majority  for 
'  John  A.'  and  protection.  /  In  the  preceding 
July  Sir  John  had  ventured  a  prophecy  of  the 
result — something,  by  the  way,  he  was  ex- 
tremely chary  of  doing.  '  If  we  do  well  we 
shall  have  a  majority  of  sixty,  if  badly,  thirty.' 
He  had  eighty-six. 

It  was  observed  that  as  far  as  possible 
the  new  ministers  in  the  Cabinet  formed  by 
Macdonald  were  taken  from  the  ranks  of  his 
old  colleagues,  from  those  who  had  suffered 
with  him  on  account  of  the  '  Pacific  Scandal.' 
Sir  George  Cartier  was  dead,  but  Tilley  and 
Tapper,  Langevin,  Pope,  Campbell,  Aikins, 
O'Connor,  and  others  of  the  *  Old  Guard  V  not 
hitherto  of  Cabinet  rank,  became  members  of 
the  new  Administration,  which  was  destined 
to  last  for  thirteen  years. 

Lord  Dufferin's  term  of  office  as  governor- 
general  was  about  to  expire.  One  of  his  last 
acts  before  leaving  Canada  was  to  send  for 
Macdonald  to  form  the  new  Ministry.  Sir 

n6          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

John's  relations  with  Lord  Dufferin  had  always 
been  pleasant,  though  I  think  he  considered 
the  governor-general  a  bit  of  a  humbug. 
Speaking  to  me  one  day  of  men's  liking  for 
flattery,  Sir  John  said  that  '  almost  anybody 
will  take  almost  any  amount  of  it,'  but  he 
thought  that  Lord  Dufferin  transgressed  even 
those  wide  limits.  '  He  laid  it  on  with  a 
trowel.'  Sir  John  added  that  Lord  Dufferin 
was  proud  of  his  classical  acquirements.  He 
once  delivered  an  address  in  Greek  at  the 
University  of  Toronto.  A  newspaper  sub- 
sequently spoke  of  '  His  Excellency's  perfect 
command  of  the  language.'  '  I  wonder  who 
told  the  reporter  that,'  said  a  colleague  to  the 
chief.  '  I  did,'  replied  Sir  John.  '  But  you 
do  not  know  Greek.'  '  No,'  replied  Sir  John, 
4  but  I  know  men.' 

Lord  Dufferin's  successor  in  the  office  of 
governor-general  was  the  Duke  of  Argyll,  at 
that  time  Marquess  of  Lome,  who  spent  five 
interesting  and,  as  the  duke  himself  said  more 
than  once,  pleasant  years  in  the  Dominion. 
The  personal  relations  between  him  and  the 
prime  minister  were  always  of  the  most  agree- 
able description.  The  story,  published  in  Sir 
Richard  Cartwright's  Reminiscences,  that  Sir 
John  Macdonald  was  guilty  on  one  occasion 


of  rudeness  to  his  royal  consort  the  Princess 
Louise  is  without  a  particle  of  foundation.  It 
was  categorically  denied  by  Her  Royal  High- 
ness, and  characterized  as  '  rubbish '  by  the 
duke  in  a  cable  to  the  Montreal  Star.  I  have 
now  arrived  at  the  stage  in  this  narrative 
when  I  have  personal  knowledge  of  every- 
thing upon  which  I  write.  I  was  Sir  John 
Macdonald's  private  secretary  during  the 
latter  half  of  Lord  Lome's  term  of  office, 
and  I  positively  assert  that  the  relations 
between  Government  House  and  Earnscliffe 
were  of  the  most  friendly  character  during  the 
whole  period.  Had  there  been  the  slightest 
truth  in  the  story,  it  is  incredible  that  such 
relations  should  have  existed. 
^The  policy  of  protection  which  Sir  John 
had  offered  to  the  people  in  1878  was  brought 
into  effect  during  the  session  of  1879.  So 
completely  was  his  promise  fulfilled  that  the 
Liberal  leader,  Mackenzie,  declared  that  Sir 
John  had  '  gone  the  whole  hog.'  George 
Brown  made  a  similar  admission.*  Sir  John 
Macdonald,  it  may  be  said,  always  carried  out 
his  promises.  I  never  knew  him  to  fail./  He 
was  guarded  in  making  them,  but  if  he  gave 
an  unconditional  promise  he  was  sure  to  im- 

*  Senate  Debates,  1879,  p.  565. 


plement  it,  no  matter  at  what  inconvenience 
to  himself.  /  I  have  seen  this  illustrated  again 
and  again.'  The  late  Sir  Richard  Cartwright 
— no  very  friendly  witness — observed  in  recent 
times,  in  his  own  characteristic  fashion  :  '  I 
will  say  this  for  that  old  scoundrel  John  A, 
Macdonald,  that  if  he  once^gaye  youjiis  word, 
you  could  rely  upon  it.* 

Sir  John  had  not  been  long  in  power  when 
death  removed  the  most  implacable  of  his  foes. 
On  May  9,  1880,  died  George  Brown,  struck 
down  in  his  office  by  the  bullet  of  an  assassin. 
This  shocking  occurrence,  which  was  due  to 
the  act  of  a  discharged  printer,  had  no  relation 
to  public  affairs. 

^  The  fiscal  policy  having  been  settled,  Sir 
John  Macdonald  again  turned  his  attention 
to  the  problem  of  a  railway  to  the  Pacific. 
The  Liberal  Government,  on  the  ground  that 
the  agreement  with  British  Columbia  to  build 
the  road  within  ten  years  was  impossible  of 
fulfilment,  had  not  considered  Canada  bound 
by  it,  but  had  decided  to  build  the  railway, 
not  by  means  of  a  private  company,  but  as  a 
government  work,  and  to  construct  it  gradually 
in  sections  as  the  progress  of  settlement  and 
the  state  of  the  public  treasury  might  warrant. 
Sir  John  Macdonald  rejected  this  piecemeal 


policy,  and  resolved  to  carry  out  the  original 
scheme  of  a  great  national  highway  across  the 
continent,  to  be  built  as  rapidly  as  possible 
so  as  to  open  up  quickly  the  resources  of  the 
Great  West. 

In  the  summer  of  1880,  accompanied  by 
three  of  his  colleagues — Tupper,  Pope,  and 
Macpherson — Macdonald  visited  England  for 
the  purpose  of  inducing  capitalists  to  take 
hold  of  the  enterprise.  After  much  negotia- 
tion they  were  successful,  and  on  September 
14,  1880,  an  agreement  for  the  construction 
of  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway  was  signed 
in  London.  The  company  was  to  receive 
$25,000,000  and  25,000,000  acres  of  land  in 
alternate  blocks  on  each  side  of  the  railway 
running  from  Winnipeg  to  Jasper  House  at 
the  Rockies.  The  line  was  to  be  completed 
by  May  i,  1891,  and  the  company  was  to 
deposit  one  million  dollars  as  evidencing  its 
ability  to  carry  out  the  bargain.  The  con- 
tract was  finally  executed  at  Ottawa  on 
October  21,  1880.  Parliament  was  then  sum- 
moned in  order  to  ratify  what  the  Government 
had  done. 

The  contract  was  fiercely  opposed.  The 
Opposition  denounced  the  terms  as  extrava- 
gant, as  beyond  the  resources  of  the  country, 

120          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

and  as  certain  to  involve  financial  disaster. 
Blake  affirmed  that  the  road  would  never  pay 
for  the  grease  for  the  wheels  of  the  engines 
that  would  pass  over  it,  and  appealed  to 
his  fellow-members  not  to  throw  the  hard- 
earned  money  of  the  people  of  Canada  '  down 
the  gorges  of  British  Columbia.'  A  rival 
company  was  hurriedly  got  up  which  offered 
to  build  the  railway  on  much  more  moderate 
terms.  The  bona  fides  of  this  opposition 
company  or  *  syndicate  '  was  much  doubted, 
and,  in  any  event,  the  proposal  came  too  late. 
The  Government  was  bound  to  stand  by  its 
bargain,  which  was  defended  with  great  power 
by  Sir  John  Macdonald,  Sir  Charles  Tupper, 
and  others.  At  length,  by  a  vote  of  128  to 
49,  the  House  of  Commons  ratified  the  con- 
tract, which  passed  the  Senate  a  few  days 
later,  and  became  incorporated  in  an  Act  of 
Parliament  assented  to  on  February  15,  1881. 
Then  began  a  period  of  railway  construction 
hitherto  unparalleled.  At  the  date  of  the 
signing  of  the  contract  the  only  portions  of 
the  main  line  built  were  152  miles  from  Fort 
William  westward  (the  track  was  laid,  but  the 
line  was  not  completed)  and  112  miles  from 
Keewatin  to  Selkirk — that  is  264  miles.  Mac- 
kenzie had  declared  the  building  of  the  road 


within  ten  years  to  be  a  physical  impossibility 
for  Canada.  He  even  went  so  far  as  to  affirm 
that  the  whole  resources  of  the  British  Empire 
could  not  construct  the  railway  in  ten  years.* 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  it  was  built  by  Canada 
in  less  than  five  years.  On  November  7, 
1885,  Donald  Smith  drove  the  last  spike 
at  Craigellachie,  twenty-eight  miles  west  of 
Revelstoke,  British  Columbia ;  and  on  the 
24th  of  the  following  July,  just  fifteen  years 
(including  the  five  lost  years  of  the  Mackenzie 
regime)  after  the  engagement  with  British 
Columbia  was  made,  Sir  John  Macdonald 

*  '  I  now  refer  to  the  diplomatic  blunder  committed  in  under- 
taking solemn  engagements  that  the  entire  resources  of  the 
Empire  could  not  possibly  implement.  .  .  .  You  will  see  how 
unlikely  it  was  that  that  road,  with  all  the  power  of  man  and 
all  the  money  of  Europe,  could  have  been  completed  in  1881* 
(Mackenzie  at  Sarnia,  October  u,  1875). 

Even  after  the  completion  of  the  C.P.R.  the  Globe  mocked  at 
the  enterprise  in  this  fashion :  *  The  iron  band  of  Confederation 
has  been  completed.  .  .  .  The  salubrious  Rocky  and  Selkirk 
ranges  may  now  become  a  summer  resort  for  the  fashionable 
and  crowded  populations  situated  between  Cal lander  and  Rat 
Portage.  In  short,  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway  has  been 
opened.  .  .  .  For  our  own  part,  we  have  not  the  slightest  doubt 
that  the  C.P.R.  will  be  no  less  effective  than  the  N.P.  in  creat- 
ing wealth  for  Canada.  .  .  .  This  will  be  amply  proved  by 
the  spectacle  of  a  railway  2500  miles  long  operated  on  the 
strength  of  a  traffic  with  about  150,000  people.  Such  a  thing 
was  never  tried  before,  and  is  unlikely  ever  to  be  tried  again* 
(Globe,  July  13,  1886). 

122          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

arrived  at  Port  Moody  in  the  car  in  which  he 
had  left  Ottawa  a  few  days  before. 

This  marvellous  feat  was  not  accomplished 
without  great  exertions,  much  anxiety,  and 
the  exercise  of  the  highest  arts  of  statesman- 
ship. The  opposition  to  the  granting  of  the 
charter  had  been  so  keen,  the  arguments 
against  the  whole  scheme  had  been  so  power- 
fully set  forth,  that  the  company  found  they 
could  not  sell  their  lands,  nor  obtain,  in  any 
other  way,  the  money  needed  to  carry  forward 
the  work.  The  Government  was  obliged  to 
come  to  the  rescue,  and,  in  the  session  of  1884, 
to  grant  a  loan  of  $22,500,000  to  the  company. 
On  December  i,  1883,  Sir  John  Macdonald  sent 
this  telegram  to  Sir  Charles  Tupper,  who  only 
a  few  months  before  had  gone  over  to  London 
to  fill  the  position  of  high  commissioner : 
c  Pacific  in  trouble,  you  should  be  here.1 
Next  morning  the  characteristic  reply  was 
received  :  '  Sailing  on  Thursday/  Sir  Charles 
was  as  good  as  his  word.  With  admirable 
courage,  energy,  and  resolution  he  fought  the 
measure  of  relief  through  parliament,  and  for 
a  time  at  least  all  was  well.  But  only  for  a 
time.  Early  in  the  year  1885  we  find  Mr 
Stephen,  the  president  of  the  company,  writing 
Sir  John  Macdonald : 


[There  is]  imminent  danger  of  sudden 
crisis  unless  we  can  find  means  to  meet 
pressing  demands.  ...  It  is  clear  as  noon- 
day, Sir  John,  that  unless  you  yourself 
say  what  is  to  be  done,  nothing  but 
disaster  will  result.  The  question  is  too 
big  for  some  of  our  friends,  and  nothing 
but  your  own  authority  and  influence  can 
carry  anything  that  will  accomplish  the 
object.  ...  I  endeavoured  to  impress 
upon  him  again  [the  finance  minister] 
that  the  object  of  the  present  application 
to  the  Government  is  to  save  the  life  of 
the  Company.  .  .  . 

I  do  hope  something  will  be  done  to-day 
that  will  have  the  effect  of  saving  the 
life  of  the  Company.  I  stayed  over  here 
[Ottawa]  to-day  in  case  I  might  be  wanted. 
It  is  impossible  for  me  to  carry  on  this 
struggle  for  life,  in  which  I  have  now  been 
for  over  four  months  constantly  engaged, 
any  longer.  Although  I  have  done  my 
best  to  save  the  life  and  the  honour  of  the 
Company,  I  cannot  help  feeling  that  I  have 
failed  to  impress  the  Government  with  a 
full  sense  of  the  extreme  urgency  of  the 
necessities  of  the  Company,  and  yet  I  do 
not  know  anything  further  that  I  can  say 

124          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

or  do  to  enable  the  Government  to  realize 
the  extreme  gravity  of  the  position  in 
which  the  Company  is  now  placed.  If  the 
Company  is  allowed  once  to  go  to  the 
wall,  the  remedial  measures  proposed  will 
be  useless  because  too  late.  I  shall  be 
within  reach  if  wanted.  Mr  Pope,  your 
secretary,  knows  where  to  find  me. 

The  following  is  part  of  a  telegram  from 
the  general  manager  to  the  president : 

Have  no  means  paying  wages,  pay  car 
can't  be  sent  out,  and  unless  we  get  imme- 
diate relief  we  must  stop.  Please  inform 
Premier  and  Finance  Minister.  Do  not  be 
surprised,  or  blame  me,  if  an  immediate 
and  most  serious  catastrophe  happens. 

The  application  referred  to  was  for  a  further 
loan  of  $5,000,000.  The  request  was  ill  re- 
ceived by  the  Cabinet.  Ministers  were  de- 
cidedly averse  to  any  further  assistance  out  of 
the  public  treasury.  The  prime  minister  was 
told  that  it  could  not  be  done.  On  the  other 
hand,  if  it  were  not  done,  irretrievable  disaster 
stared  Canada  in  the  face.  For  if  the  Cana- 
dian Pacific  Railway  went  down,  what  of  the 
future  of  the  North- West  ?  what  of  the  credit 



of  Canada  itself  ?  This  was  perhaps  the  sup- 
reme moment  of  Sir  John  Macdonald's  career. 
With  a  divided  Cabinet,  an  unwilling  following, 
and  a  hostile  Opposition,  it  is  no  wonder  that 
even  his  iron  resolution  shrank  from  going 
to  parliament  with  this  fresh  proposal,  which 
seemed  an  absolute  confirmation  of  the  pro- 
phecies of  his  opponents.  He  had,  I  believe, 
almost  if  not  altogether,  made  up  his  mind 
that  further  assistance  was  impossible.  But 
he  looked  once  again,  and  appreciated  the  her- 
culean efforts  that  his  friends  George  Stephen 
and  Donald  Smith  were  making  to  avert  the 
ruin  of  the  great  enterprise,  apparently  totter- 
ing to  its  fall.  He  realized  what  such  a  fall 
would  mean  to  his  country,  to  his  party,  and 
to  himself ;  and,  summoning  all  his  courage, 
he  called  a  final  Cabinet  council  and  placed 
the  issue  fully  before  his  colleagues.  The 
master  spirit  prevailed.*  One  minister  with- 
drew his  resignation,  and  he  with  other 

*  'You  don't,  I  think,  give  sufficient  weight  to  the  troubles 
and  difficulties  which  beset  the  Government,  and  you  have  ex- 
aggerated our  power — forgetting  that  we  have  a  strong  opposi- 
tion and  a  watchful  press  which  charge  us  with  being  mere  tools 
of  the  C.P.R.,  and  not  knowing  that  more  than  once  we  were 
deserted  by  our  own  parliamentary  friends  in  caucus,  and  that 
it  was  only  my  individual  power  over  them  that  enabled  us  on 
more  than  one  occasion  to  come  to  your  relief  (Sir  John 
M  acdonald  to  Sir  George  Stephen,  dated  August  i,  1890). 

126          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

ministers  abandoned  their  opposition.  The 
ministerial  supporters  in  parliament,  cheered 
and  encouraged  by  the  indomitable  spirit  of 
their  chief,  voted  the  $5,000,000,  and  the  road 
was  carried  forward  to  completion.  From  that 
day  all  went  well.  Both  loans  were  speedily 
repaid  by  the  company  ;  and  the  Canadian 
Pacific  Railway,  to-day  the  greatest  trans- 
portation system  in  the  world,  was  launched. 
It  is  the  infelicity  of  statesmen  that  one 
difficulty  is  no  sooner  overcome  than  another 
arises  to  take  its  place.  And  so  it  now  hap- 
pened. In  1885  Louis  Riel  led  an  armed 
rebellion  of  half-breeds  on  the  banks  of  the 
Saskatchewan,  as  fifteen  years  earlier  he  had 
led  one  on  the  banks  of  the  Red  River.  The 
causes  were  similar.  The  half-breeds  were 
alarmed  at  the  incoming  of  new  life,  and  could 
not  get  from  the  Government  a  title  to  the 
lands  they  occupied  that  they  regarded  as 
secure.  The  rebellion  was  quickly  crushed 
and  Riel  was  taken  prisoner.  This  opened 
up  a  fresh  chapter  of  embarrassments  for  the 
Ministry.  From  the  first  there  could  be  no 
doubt  as  to  the  course  which  should  be  pur- 
sued with  regard  to  the  unfortunate  man. 
His  offences  of  fifteen  years  before  had  been 
suffered  to  pass  into  oblivion.  Even  his  great 


crime — the  atrocious  murder  of  Thomas  Scott 
— had  gone  unwhipped  of  justice.  His  sub- 
sequent effrontery  in  offering  himself  for 
election  and  attempting  to  take  his  seat  in 
parliament  had  been  visited  with  no  greater 
punishment  than  expulsion  from  the  House  of 
Commons.  Now  he  had  suddenly  emerged 
from  his  obscurity  in  the  United  States  to  lead 
the  half-breeds  along  the  Saskatchewan  river 
in  an  armed  revolt  against  the  Government. 
At  the  same  time — and  this  was  incomparably 
his  worst  offence — he  had  deliberately  incited 
the  Indians  to  murder  and  pillage.  He  had 
caused  much  bloodshed,  the  expenditure  of 
large  sums  of  money,  and  the  disturbance  of  an 
extensive  region  of  the  North- West. 

Riel  had  been  caught  red-handed.  What- 
ever excuses  might  be  put  forward,  on  be- 
half of  his  unfortunate  dupes,  that  the 
Government  had  refused  to  heed  their  just 
demands,  it  is  certain  that  Riel  himself  could 
plead  no  such  excuses,  for  he  was  not  at 
the  time  even  a  resident  of  the  country. 
But,  unfortunately,  his  case  gave  the  oppor- 
tunity of  making  political  capital  against  the 
Government.  Since  he  was  of  French  origin 
the  way  was  open  for  an  appeal  to  racial 
passions.  The  French- Canadian  habitant,  re- 

128          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

calling  the  rebellion  of  1837-38,  saw  in  Riel  an- 
other Papineau.  A  wretched  malefactor,  thus 
elevated  to  the  rank  of  a  patriot,  became  a 
martyr  in  the  eyes  of  many  of  his  compatriots. 
Sir  John  Macdonald  fully  realized  the  dan- 
ger of  the  situation,  but  from  the  first  he  was 
resolved,  whatever  the  political  outcome,  that 
if  proved  a  culprit  Riel  should  not  a  second 
time  escape.  There  should  be  a  fair  trial  and 
no  more  clemency,  but  rigorous  justice,  for  the 
man  who  had  added  new  crimes  to  the  murder 
of  Scott  fifteen  years  earlier.  Four  able 
lawyers,  including  Sir  Charles  Fitzpatrick,  the 
present  chief  justice  of  Canada,  were  assigned 
to  Kiel's  defence.  The  trial  opened  at  Regina 
on  July  20,  1885,  and  on  August  I  Riel  was 
found  guilty  of  high  treason  and  sentenced  to 
be  hanged  on  September  18.  In  deference  to 
those  who  professed  to  doubt  Riel's  sanity,  a 
stay  of  execution  was  granted.  Sir  John 
Macdonald  sent  to  Regina  two  medical  men, 
who,  with  the  surgeon  of  the  North- West 
Mounted  Police,  were  instructed  to  examine 
into  RiePs  mental  condition.  They  reported 
that,  except  in  regard  to  certain  religious 
matters  on  which  he  appeared  to  hold  eccentric 
and  foolish  views,  he  was  quite  able  to  dis- 
tinguish between  right  and  wrong  and  that  he 


was  entirely  responsible  for  his  actions.  On 
November  16,  1885,  Riel  paid  upon  the  scaffold 
the  last  penalty  for  his  crimes. 

During  Kiel's  imprisonment  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald  received  from  him  several  letters. 
From  various  other  quarters  he  was  informed 
of  the  blasphemies,  outrages,  and  murders  of 
which  Riel  had  been  guilty.  There  were  many 
petitions,  some  for  justice,  others  for  mercy, 
chiefly  from  people  living  in  the  eastern  pro- 
vinces. These,  however,  counted  for  little, 
since  for  the  most  part  they  merely  repre- 
sented the  political  or  racial  sympathies  of  the 
writers.  But  there  are  among  Macdonald's 
papers  some  original  statements  in  respect  to 
Riel  of  the  highest  importance,  from  those  of 
his  fellow-countrymen  who  best  knew  him. 
The  Catholic  missionaries  living  in  the  districts 
specially  affected  by  the  rebellion — St  Lau- 
rent, Batoche,  and  Duck  Lake — in  a  collec- 
tive letter  dated  March  12,  1885,  denounced  in 
the  strongest  language  '  the  miscreant  Louis 
David  Riel '  who  had  led  astray  their  people. 
The  venerable  bishop  of  St  Albert,  while  plead- 
ing for  RiePs  dupes,  had  no  word  of  pity  for 
the  '  miserable  individual '  himself.  Under 
date  July  n,  1885,  the  bishop  writes  thus  to 
Sir  John  Macdonald : 

D.J.M.  T 

I3o          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

These  poor  half  breeds  would  never  have 
taken  up  arms  against  the  Government 
had  not  a  miscreant  of  their  own  nation 
[Kiel],  profiting  by  their  discontent,  excited 
them  thereto.  He  gained  their  confidence 
by  a  false  and  hypocritical  piety,  and 
having  drawn  them  from  the  beneficent 
influence  of  their  clergy,  he  brought  them 
to  look  upon  himself  as  a  prophet,  a  man 
inspired  by  God  and  specially  charged  with 
a  mission  in  their  favour,  and  forced  them 
to  take  up  arms. 


RiePs  own  letters  disclose  no  appreciation  on 
his  part  of  the  enormity  of  his  offences,  or  of 
the  grave  peril  in  which  he  stood.  The  whole 
collection  produces  a  most  unfavourable  im- 
pression of  the  man,  and  one  rises  from  its 
examination  with  a  wish  that  those  who  were 
wont  to  proclaim  Riel  a  patriot  and  hero  could 
see  for  themselves  what  manner  of  man  he 
really  was.  The  papers  will  ultimately  find 
their  resting-place  in  the  Dominion  Archives 
and  will  become  available  to  future  historians. 
The  political  effect  of  the  execution  of  Riel 
was  quite  in  accordance  with  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald's  expectations.  In  the  province  of 
Quebec  the  greatest  excitement  prevailed. 


At  many  meetings  the  prime  minister  and  his 
French-Canadian  colleagues  were  burned  in 
effigy.  Sir  John  had  postponed  an  intended 
visit  to  England  until  after  the  execution. 
So  intense  was  the  popular  feeling,  that  when 
the  time  came  for  sailing  he  thought  it  prudent 
to  avoid  Montreal  and  Quebec  and  to  board  his 
ship  at  Rimouski.  This  circumstance  afforded 
material  to  the  editor  of  the  Mail,  Mr  Ed- 
ward Farrer,  for  an  amusing  article,  bearing 
the  alliterative  title, '  The  Murderer 's  Midnight 
Mizzle,  or  the  Ruffian's  Race  for  Rimouski.' 

All  this  happened  in  November.  In  the 
preceding  January  Sir  John  had  taken  part 
at  Montreal  in  a  magnificent  demonstration 
to  celebrate  the  fortieth  anniversary  of  his 
entrance  into  public  life.  If  ever  a  public 
man  enjoyed  the  acclaim  of  the  populace,  the 
Conservative  chieftain  did  so  on  that  occasion. 
If  my  memory  serves  me  rightly,  the  crowd 
took  the  horses  out  of  his  carriage  and  drew 
him  in  triumph  from  the  place  of  meeting  to 
his  hotel.  Not  quite  ten  months  later,  when 
slipping  almost  secretly  past  Montreal,  Mac- 
donald  alluded  to  this  as  an  apt  illustration  of 
the  fickleness  of  public  opinion.  The  immedi- 
ate consequence  of  this  popular  frenzy  in 
Quebec  was  the  defeat  of  the  Conservative 

132          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

Government  of  the  province,  the  rise  of 
Honore  Mercier,  the  Liberal  leader,  to  power, 
and  the  loss  of  many  Conservative  seats  in  the 
subsequent  Dominion  elections.  Indeed,  Sir 
John  Macdonald  never  recovered  his  ground 
in  the  province  of  Quebec.  RiePs  execution 
wrought  organic  political  changes  which  are 
visible  to  this  day. 

The  parliamentary  opponents  of  the  Govern- 
ment were  naturally  not  slow  to  take  advan- 
tage of  the  situation,  but  their  first  move  was 
frustrated  by  Sir  John  Macdonald  in  a  manner 
worthy  to  rank  as  a  piece  of  political  strategy 
with  the  '  Double  Shuffle  '  itself.  At  the  first 
available  moment  after  the  meeting  of  par- 
liament in  February  1886,  the  member  for 
Montmagny  *  moved  this  resolution  :  *  That 
this  House  feels  it  its  duty  to  express  its  deep 
regret  that  the  sentence  of  death  passed  upon 
Louis  Riel  convicted  of  high  treason  was 
allowed  to  be  carried  into  execution/  Scarcely 
were  the  words  out  of  his  mouth  before  Sir 
Hector  Langevin  rose,  anticipating  Blake,  the 
leader  of  the  Opposition,  by  a  fraction  of  a 
second,  and  moved  the  '  previous  question/ 

*  This  was  the  Hon.  P.  Landry,  the  present  speaker  (19x5)  of 
the  Senate.  He  was  a  fast  friend  and  supporter  of  Macdonald, 
but  he  disapproved  of  the  execution  of  Riel. 


thus  shutting  off  all  amendments,  and  com- 
pelling a  vote  to  be  taken  on  the  resolution 
as  it  stood.  The  Opposition  had  naturally 
counted  upon  having  an  opportunity  to  pre- 
sent an  amendment  so  framed  as  to  censure 
the  Government  for  maladministration,  with- 
out categorically  condemning  the  execution 
itself.  In  this  design,  however,  they  were 
frustrated.  Blake  was  completely  outgener- 
alled,  and  as  Sir  Hector  had  been  fortunate 
enough  to  catch  the  speaker's  eye  first,  there 
was  no  help  for  it.  Blake  himself,  his  French- 
Canadian  supporters,  and  some  others,  voted 
for  the  condemnation  of  the  Government,  but 
for  some  of  the  most  prominent  members  of  the 
Opposition  this  was  an  impossibility.  Many 
prominent  Liberals  —  including  Mackenzie, 
Cartwright,  Mulock,  Paterson,  Sutherland, 
Fisher,  and  Davies — supported  the  Ministry 
against  their  own  leader.  By  a  vote  of  146 
to  52  the  House  rejected  Landry's  motion. 

Another  important  question  of  the  time  was 
the  adoption  of  an  Act  for  the  Dominion 
making  a  uniform  qualification  of  voters.  The 
British  North  America  Act  laid  down  that, 
until  the  parliament  of  Canada  otherwise 
provided,  the  provincial  laws  relating  to  the 
qualification  to  vote  at  elections  should  apply 


to  elections  for  members  of  the  House  of 
Commons.  Since  1867  parliament  had  gone 
on  using  the  provincial  lists  of  voters,  but  for 
some  years  Sir  John  Macdonald  had  chafed 
under  this  anomaly.  It  seemed  to  him 
obvious  that  the  parliament  of  Canada  should 
determine  its  own  electorate,  and  that  the 
franchise  should,  as  far  as  possible,  be  uniform 
throughout  the  Dominion.  The  system  in 
vogue,  under  which  members  of  the  House  of 
Commons  were  elected  under  half  a  dozen 
different  systems,  over  which  parliament  had 
no  control,  was  in  his  opinion  not  merely 
abnormal,  but  derogatory  to  the  dignity  of  the 
superior  body.  In  defence  of  this  system  the 
practice  in  the  United  States  was  sometimes 
pointed  to,  but  in  this  matter  there  was  no 
real  analogy  between  Canada  and  the  United 
States.  The  American  Union  is  in  reality  a 
federation  of  sovereign  states,  of  which  Con- 
gress is  the  creation.  This  being  the  case,  it 
is  not  incongruous  that  these  states  should 
retain  control  over  congressional  elections. 
But  the  Canadian  provinces  are  not  sovereign  ; 
on  the  contrary,  they  are,  in  a  real  sense, 
subordinate  to  the  central  government. 

Sir  John  Macdonald  had  also  observed,  with 
ever-growing  concern,  a  disposition  on  the 


part  of  some  of  the  provincial  legislatures  to 
amend  their  electoral  franchises  in  a  demo- 
cratic direction.  Now,  the  necessity  of  a  pro- 
perty qualification  for  the  right  to  vote  was 
ever  a  first  principle  with  him — the  central 
dogma  of  his  political  faith.  He  said  with 
much  energy  that  no  man  who  favoured  man- 
hood suffrage  without  a  property  qualification 
had  a  right  to  call  himself  a  Conservative. 
Once,  when  Sir  John  was  dwelling  on  his 
favourite  doctrine  in  the  House  of  Commons,  a 
member  interrupted  him  to  know  if  he  might 
ask  a  question.  '  Certainly,'  replied  Sir  John. 
'  Well,'  said  the  member,  '  many  years  ago, 
during  the  gold  fever,  I  went  out  to  California, 
and  while  there  working  in  the  diggings  I 
acquired  an  interest  in  a  donkey.  Under  it  I 
voted.  Before  the  next  election  came  round 
the  donkey  died,  and  then  I  had  no  vote.  .  .  . 
Who  voted  on  the  first  election,  I  or  the 
donkey  ?  '  It  was  on  the  tip  of  Sir  John's 
tongue  to  retort  that  it  didn't  much  matter 
which,  but  he  forbore,  and  merely  joined  in 
the  general  laughter. 

In  conformity  with  these  views  Sir  John 
Macdonald  introduced  his  Electoral  Franchise 
Bill  in  1883,  not  with  the  object  of  carrying 
it  through  parliament  that  session,  but  merely 


for  the  purpose  of  placing  it  before  the 
members.  The  same  thing  happened  in 
1884.  But  in  1885  the  Bill  was  introduced 
in  earnest.  It  provided,  as  far  as  practicable, 
for  a  uniform  qualification  of  voters  through- 
out the  Dominion  based  on  property,  and 
also  for  the  registration  of  voters  by  revising 
officers  to  be  appointed  by  the  federal  Govern- 
ment. The  measure  encountered  a  desperate 
resistance  from  the  Opposition.  For  the  first 
time  in  the  parliament  of  the  Dominion  there 
was  organized  obstruction.  On  one  occasion 
the  House  of  Commons  sat  from  Thursday 
afternoon  until  Saturday  midnight,  and  al- 
though this  record  has  since  been  beaten,  it 
was  felt  at  the  time  to  be  a  most  trying  ex- 
perience. Obstruction  was  naked  and  un- 
ashamed. Members  read  long  passages  from 
The  Pilgrim's  Progress,  or  Robinson  Crusoe, 
or  any  other  work  that  happened  to  appeal  to 
them.  One  day — the  passage  is  hopelessly 
buried  in  Hansard  and  I  cannot  find  it,  but 
I  remember  the  occasion  very  vividly — Sir 
John  rose  at  the  opening  of  the  day's  proceed- 
ings and  addressed  a  few  grave  and  measured 
words  to  the  Opposition.  Starting  with  the 
remark  that  he  could  only  suppose  their  ex- 
traordinary and  unparalleled  conduct  to  be 
the  outcome  of  a  misapprehension  as  to  '  my 


supposed  infirmities  and  my  advancing  years/ 
he  told  them  that  they  were  vastly  mistaken  if 
they  supposed  they  could  tire  him  out  by  such 
methods.  He  declared  that  as  long  as  he,  and 
those  who  acted  with  him,  enjoyed  the  confid- 
ence of  the  people,  they  did  not  intend  to  resign 
their  functions  into  the  hands  of  the  minority. 
He  begged  them,  in  conclusion,  to  reflect  upon 
the  unwisdom  of  their  course,  *  lest  what  has 
begun  as  a  farce  may  end  in  a  tragedy/ 

These  serious  words  did  not  appear  to 
produce  any  immediate  effect,  and  the  debates 
dragged  on  through  the  hot  summer  months. 
In  the  end,  however,  patience  and  firmness 
prevailed,  and  the  Franchise  Act  reached  the 
statute-book,  where  it  remained  until  it  was 
repealed  twelve  years  later  by  the  Government 
of  Sir  Wilfrid  Laurier.  The  apprehensions 
of  the  Opposition  with  regard  to  the  revising 
officers  were  not  realized.  In  Ontario  these 
positions  were  offered  to  the  county  court 
judges,  or  to  the  junior  judges,  and  were 
accepted  by  nearly  all  of  them.  In  the  pro- 
vince of  Quebec,  where  there  are  no  county 
court  judges,  such  appointments  were  not 
possible  ;  but  the  law  provided  that  where  the 
returning  officer  was  not  a  judge,  he  must  be  a 
barrister  or  notary  of  not  less  than  five  years' 
standing,  and  an  appeal  in  all  cases  lay  from 

I38          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

him  to  a  judge.  Sir  John  Macdonald  carefully 
supervised  these  appointments,  which  in  the 
great  majority  of  cases  were  quite  unexcep- 
tionable. The  administration  of  the  Act  was 
no  doubt  expensive.  This  was  the  strongest 
criticism  heard  against  it ;  but  in  the  opinion 
of  the  Government  of  that  day  it  was  essential 
to  the  idea  of  a  united  Dominion  that  the 
parliament  of  Canada  should  determine  and 
control  the  conditions  of  acquiring  the  right 
to  vote  for  members  of  its  own  House  of 

I  should  not  omit  to  state  that  Sir  John 
professed  himself  a  believer  in  the  extension 
of  the  franchise  to  single  women.  Apparently 
he  considered  that  his  advocacy  of  a  property 
qualification  required  this.  I  have  heard  him 
say,  too,  that  women,  as  a  whole,  were  con- 
servative, and  he  considered  that  their  ad- 
mission to  the  vote  would  tend  to  strengthen 
the  defences  against  the  irruption  of  an  un- 
bridled democracy.  Whether  these  views 
would  have  stood  the  test  afforded  by  the 
present-day  militant  suffragettes,  I  am  un- 
able to  say ;  for  from  Sir  John  Macdonald 
the  knowledge  that  there  might  be  something 
even  more  disastrous  than  an  unrestrained 
male  democracy  was  mercifully  withheld. 

Age  68 



'  WITH  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway  finished, 
and  my  Franchise  Bill  become  law,  I  feel  that 
I  have  done  my  work  and  can  now  sing  my 
Nunc  dimittis.' 

So  wrote  Sir  John  Macdonald  to  Lord 
Carnarvon  shortly  after  the  close  of  the 
arduous  parliamentary  session  of  1885.  There 
can  be  little  doubt  that  these  words  expressed 
his  inmost  sentiments  at  the  time.  He  had 
passed  the  allotted  span  of  threescore  years 
and  ten,  had  *  sounded  all  the  depths  and 
shoals  of  honour/  and  was  beginning  to  look 
forward  to  a  brief  period  of  freedom  from  the 
cares  of  state  before  he  should  be  too  old  to 
enjoy  it.  His  great  work  was  done.  The 
scattered  colonies  had  been  united  into  a 
vast  Dominion.  The  great  North- West  and 
the  Pacific  province  had  been  added  and 
Canada  now  extended  from  ocean  to  ocean, 
its  several  provinces  joined  together  by  iron 


140          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

bands.  The  reader  of  these  pages  can  form 
some  idea  of  the  difficulties,  of  the  labours, 
the  anxieties,  and  the  discouragements  en- 
countered in  the  execution  of  this  giant  task  ; 
and  also  of  the  marvellous  courage,  patience, 
and  endurance  which  sustained  the  master 
builder  throughout,  and  eventually  enabled 
him  to  triumph  over  all  opposition.  Small 
wonder  that  Sir  John  Macdonald,  with  the 
consciousness  of  duty  faithfully  performed, 
sometimes  in  later  life  yearned  for  that  rest 
which  he  was  fated  never  to  enjoy. 

Party  considerations  forbade  it.  Mac- 
donald's  political  friends  could  not  reconcile 
themselves  to  his  retirement,  and  he,  in  turn, 
could  not  make  up  his  mind  to  abandon  them. 
They  declared  that  his  withdrawal  meant  the 
certain  disintegration  and  consequent  defeat 
of  the  great  party  which  he  had  built  up, 
the  party  whose  destinies  he  had  so  long 
guided.  There  were,  moreover,  at  this  par- 
ticular time  special  reasons  which  rendered 
his  controlling  hand  more  than  ever  necessary. 
It  was  no  secret  that  the  French-Canadian 
ministers,  Langevin,  Caron,  and  Chapleau, 
were  far  from  showing  that  spirit  of  mutual 
trust  and  confidence  which  is  supposed  to 
exist  among  members  of  the  same  Ministry. 

OLD  AGE  141 

Sir  Hector  Langevin,  the  senior  of  the  trium- 
virate, had  been  the  lieutenant  of  Cartier,  but, 
in  this  instance,  the  mantle  of  Elijah  had  not 
fallen  upon  his  successor.  In  my  experience 
I  never  met  a  man  who  more  neatly  fulfilled 
Bismarck's  cynical  description  of  Lord  Salis- 
bury— *  a  lath  painted  to  look  like  iron/  He 
was  a  good  departmental  officer — but  he  was 
nothing  more.  The  moment  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald's  support  was  taken  away,  he  fell. 
Yet  Sir  John  stood  by  him  against  the  attacks 
of  his  opponents,  and  generally  sided  with  him 
in  his  differences  with  his  colleagues. 

During  a  holiday  of  1888  Sir  John  said 
to  me  one  day  at  Dalhousie,  N.B.,  where  he 
was  spending  the  summer :  '  George  Stephen 
keeps  pressing  me  to  retire,  and  I  think  I 
shall.  My  only  difficulty  is  about  my  suc- 
cessor.' '  Whom  do  you  think  of  as  such  ?  ' 
I  asked.  *  Oh,'  replied  he,  '  Langevin  ;  there 
is  no  one  else.'  *  '  Well,'  I  remarked,  *  I 
have  a  candidate— one  who  lives  on  the  border 
line  between  the  two  provinces,  speaks  both 
languages  with  facility,  and  is  equally  at  home 

*  It  was  commonly  understood  at  this  time  that  Sir  Charles 
Tupper,  whose  name  would  naturally  first  occur  in  this  con- 
nection, preferred  to  remain  in  England  as  high  commissioner, 
and,  consequently,  was  not  in  the  running. 

142          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

in  Quebec  and  Ontario/  '  Who  is  he  ?  '  'Mr 
Abbott,'  I  replied.  'John  Abbott,'  said  Sir 
John  incredulously.  '  Why,  he  hasn't  a  single 
qualification  for  the  office.  Thompson/  he 
went  on,  '  is  very  able  and  a  fine  fellow,  but 
Ontario  would  never  endure  his  turning 
Catholic.  No,  I  see  no  one  but  Langevin.' 
Yet  it  was  Abbott  after  all.  When  asked  why 
he  thought  so  much  of  Langevin,  the  reply 
was  at  once  forthcoming:  '  He  has  always 
been  true  to  me.'  The  same  thing  might 
have  been  said  of  Sir  Adolphe  Caron,  ever  a 
faithful  supporter,  and  from  his  youth  up, 
equally  in  prosperity  and  adversity,  a  close 
personal  friend  of  the  old  chief ;  but  "Sir  John 
thought  that  Caron  sometimes  allowed  his 
personal  feelings  to  obscure  his  judgment,  or, 
as  he  expressed  it,  '  Caron  is  too  much  in- 
fluenced by  his  hates — a  fatal  mistake  in  a 
public  man,  who  should  have  no  resentments.' 
Sir  Adolphe  Chapleau,  with  all  his  attractive- 
ness and  charm,  Sir  John  never  quite  trusted. 
The  relations  between  these  three  French- 
Canadian  ministers  were  hard  to  define.  I 
frankly  confess  that,  with  all  my  opportunities, 
I  could  never  master  the  intricacies  of  Lower- 
Canadian  politics  in  those  days.  In  the  be- 
ginning it  seemed  to  be  a  case  of  Langevin  and 

OLD  AGE  143 

Caron  against  Chapleau  ;  later  it  sometimes 
looked  as  though  Langevin  and  Chapleau  were 
making  common  cause  against  Caron  ;  per- 
haps most  often  it  resembled  a  triangular  duel. 
There  was  absolutely  no  difference  between 
those  three  men  in  respect  of  public  policy, 
but  the  personal  jealousy  and  suspicion  with 
which  they  regarded  one  another  was  amusing. 

4  Langevin/  said  Sir  John,  '  on  his  way 
down  to  Quebec,  cannot  stop  off  for  lunch  at 
Montreal,  but  Chapleau  writes  me  that  he  is 
interfering  in  his  district,  and  if  he  leaves  his 
house  in  Quebec  for  a  walk  down  John  Street, 
Caron  wires  in  cypher  that  a  breach  in  the 
party  is  imminent/  Langevin,  on  his  part, 
was  equally  vigilant  to  resent  the  encroach- 
ments, real  or  supposed,  of  his  colleagues  upon 
his  domain,  and  altogether  Sir  John  had  no 
pleasant  time  keeping  the  peace  among  them. 

In  the  English  section  of  the  Cabinet  three 
vacancies  had  recently  taken  place.  Immedi- 
ately after  the  close  of  the  session  of  1885 
considerations  of  health  compelled  Sir  David 
Macpherson  to  give  up  the  portfolio  of  the 
Interior.  This  in  no  sense  interfered  with  the 
personal  and  political  friendship  which  had 
long  existed  between  him  and  his  leader.  Sir 
David,  albeit  over  cautious  and  deliberate  in 

144          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

his  methods,  was  a  man  of  good  judgment, 
and  wholly  animated  by  a  desire  for  the  public 
good.  His  administrative  record  suffered 
from  his  delays  in  settling  the  grievances  of 
the  half-breeds  of  the  North-West.  This  had 
afforded  Riel  the  pretext  for  the  second  rising, 
but  how  far  responsibility  in  this  matter 
properly  attached  to  Macpherson,  I  am  not 
prepared  to  say. 

Sir  David  Macpherson  was  succeeded  in  the 
office  of  minister  of  the  Interior  by  Thomas 
White,  a  well-known  Conservative  journalist 
of  Montreal,  where  he  and  his  brother  Richard 
conducted  the  Montreal  Gazette.  For  many 
years  White  had  been  a  faithful  exponent  of 
Conservative  principles  in  the  press.  In  his 
efforts  to  enter  parliament  he  had  been 
singularly  unfortunate.  In  1867  he  had  been 
defeated  in  South  Wentworth  by  three  votes  ; 
in  1874  in  Prescott  by  six  votes ;  in  1875  in 
Montreal  West  by  seven  votes ;  and  in  the 
following  year  in  the  same  constituency  by 
fifty  votes.  Finally,  he  was  elected  in  1878 
for  the  then  existing  electoral  division  of 
Cardwell,  in  the  province  of  Ontario.  Seven 
years  later  he  became  a  colleague  of  the 
chieftain  whose  cause  he  had  so  long  and  so 
effectively  promoted.  To  the  great  grief  of 

OLD  AGE  145 

Sir  John  Macdonald,  White  died  within  three 
years  of  taking  office.  Few  statesmen  of  so 
great  merit  have  experienced  such  persistent 
ill  fortune.  Had  he  lived,  he  might  not  im- 
probably have  become  prime  minister  of 

In  the  autumn  of  1885  the  minister  of 
Finance,  Sir  Leonard  Tilley,  resigned  to  be- 
come lieutenant-governor  of  New  Brunswick. 
In  another  volume  I  have  alluded  to  his  close 
friendship  with  Sir  John  Macdonald.  If 
White  was  an  unlucky  politician,  assuredly 
the  same  cannot  be  said  of  Sir  Leonard  Tilley. 
In  1867  he  gave  up  the  office  of  prime  minister 
of  New  Brunswick  to  enter  the  Dominion 
Cabinet ;  he  remained  minister  until  a  few 
days  before  the  downfall  of  1873,  when  he 
was  appointed  lieutenant-governor  of  New 
Brunswick.  This  post  he  held  throughout 
the  period  when  the  Conservatives  were  in 
opposition  (1873  to  1878).  Upon  the  return 
of  the  party  to  power  in  1878,  Tilley,  having 
just  completed  his  term  as  lieutenant-governor, 
became  minister  of  Finance.  After  holding 
this  office  for  seven  years,  he  slipped  back 
again  into  the  post  of  lieutenant-governor  of 
New  Brunswick.  Sir  Leonard's  place  in  the 
Cabinet  was  taken  by  Mr  (now  Sir)  George  E. 

D.J.M.  K 

146          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD      , 

Foster,  whose  signal  ability  was  thus  recog- 
nized thirty  years  ago  by  Sir  John  Macdonald. 
In  May  1884  Sir  Charles  Tupper  relin- 
quished the  portfolio  of  Railways  and  Canals 
in  order  to  devote  himself  exclusively  to 
the  office  of  high  commissioner  for  Canada 
in  London,  to  which  he  had  been  appointed 
a  year  before.  It  is  unnecessary  to  say 
that  the  withdrawal  of  Sir  Charles  from  the 
Cabinet,  in  which  he  had  so  long  exercised  a 
commanding  influence,  proved  a  serious  loss. 
Indeed,  as  the  sequel  shows,  his  presence 
became  so  necessary  that  he  had  to  return. 
Sir  John  Macdonald's  choice  of  a  successor 
from  Nova  Scotia  fell  upon  Mr  Justice  (after- 
wards Sir  John)  Thompson,  a  brilliant  man, 
who  will  never  be  appreciated  at  his  true 
worth  because  his  term  of  office  was  too 
short.  The  selection  was  at  variance  with 
Sir  John's  expressed  views  on  the  inexpedi- 
ency of  judges  leaving  the  bench  to  return 
to  political  life,  but  it  proved  singularly  happy, 
and  in  time  Thompson  became  prime  minister. 
'  Thompson/  observed  Macdonald,  '  has  just 
two  faults.  He  is  a  little  too  fond  of  satire, 
and  a  little  too  much  of  a  Nova  Scotian.'  It 
cannot  be  denied  that,  in  spite  of  Thompson's 
great  ability,  his  point  of  view  remained  pro- 

OLD  AGE  147 

vincial  to  the  end.  In  his  heart  of  hearts 
Nova  Scotia  rather  than  Canada  ever  held 
first  place.  No  more  upright  man  ever 
breathed.  He  had  a  fierce  intolerance  of  the 
slightest  departure  from  absolute  rectitude. 
The  case  of  a  chief  clerk  in  the  Civil  Service, 
who  had  committed  serious  irregularities  in 
connection  with  the  public  funds,  once  came 
up  before  the  Cabinet.  Thompson,  always 
severe  in  such  matters,  considered  that  the 
gravity  of  the  offence  called  for  dismissal,  but 
to  this  Macdonald  would  not  consent,  hold- 
ing that  reduction  in  rank  to  a  first-class 
clerkship,  with  corresponding  loss  of  salary, 
would  be  sufficient  punishment.  It  was  sel- 
dom that  Macdonald,  in  the  ordinary  course 
of  administration,  interposed  his  paramount 
authority  as  first  minister,  but,  though  the 
Council  as  a  whole  rather  inclined  towards 
Thompson's  view,  Macdonald  insisted  that  the 
more  merciful  punishment  should  be  imposed. 
Thompson  was  angry,  but  said  nothing  more 
at  the  time.  Not  long  afterwards  a  third- 
class  railway  mail  clerk,  with  a  salary  of  $500 
a  year,  got  into  similar  trouble.  *  What  shall 
be  done  with  this  man  ?  '  asked  Macdonald 
at  the  Council  Board.  There  was  a  moment's 
pause,  which  was  broken  by  the  bland  sugges- 

148          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

tion  from    Thompson  that,    '  following  pre-   . 
cedent,  he  be  made  a  first-class  clerk.' 

Thompson  had  a  caustic  wit.  A  certain 
inventor  of  Toronto,  who  had  devised  an  in- 
genious means  for  safeguarding  level  railway 
crossings,  had  long  bombarded  Sir  John 
Macdonald  with  applications  for  Government 
patronage.  When  Sir  John  became  minister 
of  Railways  in  1889,  the  inventor  thought 
that  his  day  had  at  last  arrived.  He  went 
post-haste  to  Ottawa,  obtained  the  requisite 
permission,  and  installed  his  models  in  a  room 
belonging  to  the  Railway  department.  One 
day  Macdonald  and  Thompson  happened  to 
come  along  the  corridor  going  to  Macdonald's 
office.  The  inventor,  who  had  been  lying  in 
wait,  pressed  them  to  step  aside  for  a  minute 
and  inspect  his  models.  Sir  John,  seeing  no 
escape,  said  to  his  companion,  c  Come  along, 
Thompson,  and  let  us  see  what  this  fellow 's 
got  to  show  us.'  Thompson  hated  mechanical 
contrivances,  but  there  was  no  way  out  of  it, 
so  he  followed  the  chief.  The  delighted  in- 
ventor felt  that  he  had  at  last  realized  his 
desire,  and  was  in  great  form.  He  volubly 
descanted  on  the  frequent  loss  of  life  at  level 
crossings  and  proceeded  to  show  his  devices 
for  lessening  such  dangers.  The  day  was 

OLD  AGE  149 

piping  hot  and  he  had  taken  off  his  coat, 
He  rushed  round  the  table  and  touched  bells 
here  and  there,  which  caused  gates  to  close 
and  open,  semaphores  to  drop,  and  all  sorts 
of  things  to  happen.  As  the  ministers  took 
their  leave,  Macdonald  said  to  his  companion, 
'  Well,  Thompson,  what  do  you  think  of  that 
chap  ?  '  'I  think/  replied  Thompson  with 
great  energy,  '  that  he  deserves  to  be  killed 
on  a  level  crossing.1 

Once,  while  Lord  Aberdeen  was  governor- 
general,  Sir  John  Thompson  was  dining  at 
Government  House  on  an  evening  in  June 
when  the  mosquitoes  were  unusually  trouble- 
some. Lady  Aberdeen  suggested  the  shutting 
of  the  windows.  *  Oh  !  thank  you,'  replied 
Sir  John,  *  pray  don't  trouble  ;  I  think  they 
are  all  in  now !  ' 

Sir  Alexander  Campbell  was  from  youth 
intimately  connected  with  Sir  John  Macdonald 
— as  a  fellow-citizen  of  Kingston,  as  law 
student  and  subsequently  as  partner  in  a 
legal  firm,  as  a  colleague  for  many  years  in 
the  government  of  the  old  province  of  Canada 
and  afterwards  in  that  of  the  Dominion.  Yet 
the  two  were  never  kindred  spirits.  Sir 
Alexander  Campbell  was  a  Tory  aristocrat, 
a  veritable  grand  seigneur,  of  dignified  bearing 

150          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

and  courtly  mien.  He  made  an  excellent 
minister  of  Justice,  but  he  lacked  that  bon- 
homie which  so  endeared  Sir  John  Macdonald 
to  the  multitude.  I  do  not  think  that  Sir 
John's  pre-eminence  in  that  direction  ever 
gave  Sir  Alexander  much  concern.  My  im- 
pression is  that  he  regarded  the  multitude  as 
an  assemblage  of  more  or  less  uninteresting 
persons,  necessary  only  at  election  times ; 
and  if  Sir  John  could  succeed  in  obtaining 
their  votes,  he  was  quite  welcome  to  any 
incidental  advantages  that  he  might  extract 
from  the  process.  It  was  alleged  by  Sir 
Richard  Cartwright  that  in  the  year  1864  a 
movement  was  started  in  the  Conservative 
party  with  the  object  of  supplanting  Mac- 
donald and  putting  Campbell  in  his  place, 
and  that  Sir  John  never  forgave  Campbell 
for  his  part  in  this  affair.  Something  of  the 
kind  was  talked  about  at  the  date  mentioned, 
but  the  movement  proved  a  complete  fiasco, 
and  it  is  not  at  all  clear  that  Campbell  was 
a  consenting  party  to  it.  I  doubt  too  the 
correctness  of  Sir  Richard's  inference,  for, 
leaving  the  1864  incident  out  of  account, 
there  never  was  the  slightest  political  division 
between  '"he  two  men.  At  the  time  of  the 
Pacific  Scandal,  Campbell  behaved  exceed- 

OLD  AGE  151 

ingly  well  to  his  chief.  Yet,  speaking  of  the 
period  within  my  own  knowledge — that  is  to 
say,  during  the  last  ten  years  of  Macdonald's 
life — while  ever  externally  friends,  the  two 
in  their  personal  relations  were  antipathetic. 
This  may  in  part  be  ascribed  to  Campbell's 
dignified  love  of  ease  and  disinclination  to 
join  in  the  rough-and-tumble  of  party  politics. 
When  elections  were  to  be  fought  (I  speak  only 
of  my  own  time)  Campbell,  if  he  did  not  find 
that  he  had  business  elsewhere,  was  disposed 
to  look  on  in  a  patronizing  sort  of  way.  He 
seldom  took  off  his  coat  or  even  his  gloves  in 
the  fight,  but  he  always  turned  up  when  the 
victory  was  won.  Sir  John  resented  this. 
Yet  assuredly  Campbell  had  some  merits,  or 
Macdonald  would  not  have  kept  him  in  suc- 
cessive Cabinets.  Sir  Alexander  was  an  ideal 
leader  of  the  Senate,  and  this  qualification 
alone  rendered  him  of  much  value.  He  was, 
moreover,  par  excellence  the  aristocrat  of  the 
Cabinet,  and  such  a  type  of  public  man  is  rare 
in  Canada. 

The  antithesis  of  Sir  Alexander  Campbell 
was  John  Henry  Pope,  sometime  minister  of 
Agriculture  and  later  of  Railways  and  Canals. 
Pope  was  a  man  of  small  education  and  less 
culture,  but  of  great  natural  ability,  and  was 

152          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

gifted  with  remarkable  political  sagacity. 
Macdonald  used  to  say  that  Pope  could  have 
been  anything  he  desired  had  he  only  received 
a  good  education  in  his  youth.  He  added 
that  he  had  never  known  Pope's  judgment  to 
be  at  fault.  In  times  of  stress  and  difficulty 
Pope  was  the  colleague  of  whom  he  first  sought 
advice  and  counsel,  and  upon  whose  rough 
good  sense  he  implicitly  relied.  Pope  died  two 
years  before  his  chief,  who  never  ceased  to 
mourn  his  loss. 

Another  self-made  colleague  of  the  same 
stamp  was  Mr  Frank  Smith  of  Toronto.  Mr 
Smith  was  a  member  of  the  Cabinet  from 
1882  to  1891,  during  which  long  period  his 
keen  business  sagacity  and  sound  common 
sense  were  ever  at  his  chief 's  disposal. 

Sir  Mackenzie  Bowell,  *  the  best  Minister  of 
Customs  I  ever  had/  was  another  old-time 
friend  and  colleague  for  whom  Sir  John  enter- 
tained a  high  regard  and  respect.  Sir  Mac- 
kenzie's chief  claims  to  prominence  are  of 
a  date  subsequent  to  the  day  of  Sir  John 
Macdonald  and  therefore  do  not  fall  within 
the  compass  of  this  work ;  but  he  is  one  who 
in  serene  old  age  remains  a  connecting  link 
with  those  stirring  times. 

The   pre-eminence   of   Sir   Charles   Tupper 

OLD  AGE  153 

must  not  lead  me  to  forget  that  his  son 
had  the  honour  of  being  one  of  Sir  John's 
colleagues  in  the  old  chieftain's  latter  years. 
Sir  Charles  Hibbert  Tupper  became  a  Cabinet 
minister  at  thirty- two,  the  same  age  as  that 
at  which  the  youthful  John  A.  Macdonald 
had  entered  the  Cabinet  of  Draper,  forty-one 
years  before.  During  the  years  in  which  the 
younger  Tupper  held  the  office  of  minister 
of  Marine  and  Fisheries  he  made  an  envi- 
able record  as  an  efficient  and  courageous 
administrator.  I  fancy  Sir  John  used  some- 
times to  think  that  he  was  perhaps  more 
particular  about  the  administration  of  pat- 
ronage in  his  own  department  than  in  those 
of  his  colleagues.  One  day,  shortly  after 
Mr  Tupper  (as  he  was  then)  had  become  a 
minister,  he  sent  a  letter  from  some  applicant 
for  office  over  to  Sir  John  with  the  request 
that  if  possible  he  would  do  something  for 
the  writer.  Sir  John  took  the  letter,  folded 
it,  endorsed  it,  <  Dear  Charlie,  skin  your  own 
skunks.  Yours  always,  J.  A.  M.D.,'  and  sent 
it  back  to  the  new  minister;  as  much  as  to 
say,  '  Now  that  you  have  a  department  of 
your  own,  look  after  these  people  yourself/ 

Mr  John  Costigan  was  a  member  of  Sir  John 
Macdonald's    Cabinet    from    1882    till    1891. 

154          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

Shortly  after  the  appearance  of  my  Memoirs 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  Mr  Costigan  publicly 
stated  that  I  had  made  a  mistake  in  saying 
that  Macdonald  had  not  been  in  favour  of 
Home  Rule  for  Ireland.  Goldwin  Smith  de- 
clared, indeed,  that  Sir  John  Macdonald  had 
no  settled  convictions  upon  Home  Rule,  but 
was  ever  ready  to  propitiate  the  Irish  vote 
by  any  sacrifice  of  principle  that  might  be 
required.  That  Sir  John  reduced  the  original 
Home  Rule  resolutions  before  the  Dominion 
parliament  in  1882  and  1886  to  mere  ex- 
pressions of  contingent  hope,  such  (to  use 
Goldwin  Smith's  own  words)  '  as  any  Unionist 
might  have  subscribed/  *  and  that  Macdonald 
voted  against  Mr  Curran's  substantive  resolu- 
tion in  favour  of  Home  Rule  in  1887,  when 
he  could  not  modify  it,  was  as  well  known 
to  Goldwin  Smith  as  to  Mr  Costigan.  In 
addition,  Goldwin  Smith  possessed  indubit- 
able evidence,  at  first  hand,  of  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald^ sentiments  on  the  subject  of  Home 
Rule.  During  the  political  campaign  of  1886-87 
Goldwin  Smith  said  some  hard  things  of  Sir 
John  and  the  Conservative  party.  He  was 
at  the  same  time  attacking  Gladstone  very 
bitterly  on  his  Home  Rule  policy.  Some 

*  Letter  to  The  Times,  September  i,  1886. 

OLD  AGE  155 

weeks  after  the  Canadian  elections  were  over, 
Sir  John  Macdonald  visited  Toronto,  and 
stayed  at  the  Queen's  Hotel.  Among  the 
visitors  on  the  day  of  his  arrival  was  Goldwin 
Smith,  who,  as  he  entered  the  room,  murmured 
something  about  the  doubtful  propriety  of 
making  a  social  call  upon  one  whom  he  felt  it 
his  duty  to  oppose  in  the  recent  contest.  Sir 
John  Macdonald  held  out  both  hands  saying, 
'  My  dear  sir,  I  forgive  you  everything  for 
your  splendid  defence  of  the  Empire/  alluding 
to  his  attacks  on  Home  Rule.  This  remark 
and  the  conversation  which  ensued  made  quite 
clear  where  Sir  John  Macdonald  stood  on  the 
question  of  Home  Rule — a  position  which  he 
never  compromised  by  any  word  or  act.  To 
assert  the  contrary  implies  a  charge  of  oppor- 
tunism ;  but  Goldwin  Smith  himself,  when 
calmly  analysing  Macdonald 's  character  six- 
teen years  after  his  death,  deliberately  asserted 
that  '  if  he  [Sir  John]  was  partisan,  he  was  not 
opportunist.'  *  Goldwin  Smith  knew  right 
well  that  Sir  John  Macdonald  was  just  as 
resolutely  opposed  as  he  was  himself  to  the 
establishment  of  a  separate  parliament  in 
Dublin  with  an  executive  responsible  thereto. 
On  the  evening  of  the  day  just  mentioned 

*  Weekly  Sun,  April  17,  1907. 

156          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

Macdonald  dined  with  Goldwin  Smith.  As  we 
drove  to  '  The  Grange '  Sir  John  asked  me  if 
I  had  ever  been  there  before.  I  had  not. 
1  Well/  said  he,  '  you  are  going  to  a  very  in- 
teresting house  with  a  charming  host,  but 
notice  Mr  Smith's  habit  of  interlarding  his 
otherwise  agreeable  conversation  with  tire- 
some references  to  the  nobility.  Why,  to 
hear  him  talk,  you  would  imagine  he  never 
consorted  in  England  with  anybody  under  the 
rank  of  an  earl.'  Later  that  evening,  as  we 
went  to  the  station  to  take  our  train,  Sir  John 
said,  '  Did  you  observe  what  I  told  you  ? 
That 's  why  Dizzy  in  Lothair  called  him  a 
social  parasite.  Strange  that  so  brilliant  a 
man,  who  needs  no  adventitious  aids,  should 
manifest  such  a  weakness.' 

In  the  autumn  of  1886  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
accompanied  by  four  of  his  colleagues — Chap- 
leau,  White,  Thompson,  and  Foster — made  a 
tour  of  the  province  of  Ontario,  towards  the 
close  of  which  he  wrote  thus  to  Sir  Charles 
Tupper : 

I  am  on  my  way  back  to  Ottawa  after  a 
successful  tour  in  Western  Ontario.  We 
have  made  a  very  good  impression,  and  I 
think  will  hold  our  own  in  the  Province. 

OLD  AGE  157 

We  have,  however,  lost  nearly  the  whole 
of  the  Catholic  vote  by  the  course  of 
the  Mail,  and  this  course  has  had  a  pre- 
judicial effect  not  only  in  Ontario  but 
throughout  the  Dominion,  and  has  there- 
fore introduced  a  great  element  of  un- 
certainty in  a  good  many  constituencies. 

In  Nova  Scotia  the  outlook  is  bad,  and 
the  only  hope  of  our  holding  our  own  there 
is  your  immediate  return  and  vigorous 
action.  It  may  be  necessary  that  you 
should,  even  if  only  for  a  time,  return  to 
the  Cabinet.  M'Lelan,  I  know,  would 
readily  make  way  for  you.  Now,  the  re- 
sponsibility on  you  is  very  great,  for  should 
any  disaster  arise  because  of  your  not 
coming  out,  the  whole  blame  will  be  thrown 
upon  you. 

I  see  that  Anglin  is  now  starring  it  in 
Nova  Scotia.  I  send  you  an  extract  from 
a  condensed  report  of  his  remarks  which 
appeared  in  the  Montreal  Gazette.  This  is 
a  taking  programme  for  the  Maritime 
Provinces  and  has  to  be  met,  and  no  one 
can  do  it  but  yourself.  But  enough  of 
Dominion  politics. 

I  cannot  in  conclusion  too  strongly  press 
upon  you  the  absolute  necessity  of  your 

158          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

coming  out  at  once,  and  do  not  like  to 
contemplate  the  evil  consequences  of  your 
declining  to  do  so. 

I  shall  cable  you  the  time  for  holding 
our  election  the  moment  it  is  settled. 

That  the  general  elections  of  1887  were 
fought  with  exceeding  bitterness  may  be  in- 
ferred from  a  paragraph  in  a  leading  Canadian 
newspaper  of  the  day : 

Now  W.  M.  Tweed  [the  criminal  '  boss  ' 
in  New  York]  was  an  abler  scoundrel  than 
is  Sir  John  Macdonald.  He  was  more 
courageous,  if  possible  more  unscrupulous, 
and  more  crafty,  and  he  had  himself,  as 
he  thought,  impregnably  entrenched.  Yet 
in  a  few  short  months  he  was  in  a  prison 
cell  deserted  and  despised  by  all  who  had 
lived  upon  his  wickedness — and  there  he 

This  of  course  is  a  mere  exhibition  of 
partisan  rage  and  spite.  It  contains  no  single 
word  or  phrase  in  the  smallest  degree  applic- 
able to  Sir  John  Macdonald,  who,  far  from 
being  dishonest,  was  ever  scrupulously  fair 
and  just  in  all  his  dealings,  both  public  and 
private.  This,  I  am  persuaded,  is  now  well 

OLD  AGE  159 

understood.  What  is  not  so  well  known  is 
that  he  disliked  extravagance  of  any  kind. 
He  was,  it  is  true,  a  man  of  bold  conceptions, 
and  when  convinced  that  a  large  policy  was  in 
the  interest  of  the  country,  he  never  hesitated 
at  its  cost.  Thus  he  purchased  the  North- 
West,  built  the  Canadian  Pacific  Railway, 
and  spent  millions  on  canals.  But  in  the 
ordinary  course  of  affairs  he  was  prudent,  even 
economical,  and  as  careful  of  public  money 
as  of  his  own.  At  the  close  of  a  long  life  he 
spoke  of  the  very  modest  competence  he  had 
provided  for  his  family  as  having  been  *  pain- 
fully and  laboriously  saved. ' 

If  Sir  John's  critic,  quoted  above,  meant 
to  convey  the  idea  that  in  1887  Sir  John 
thought  himself  firmly  entrenched  in  power, 
he  was  far  from  the  mark.  For  Sir  John  went 
into  the  elections  of  1887  believing  that  he 
would  be  defeated.  The  Riel  movement  in 
the  province  of  Quebec  had  assumed  formid- 
able proportions,  and  the  fatuous  course  of 
former  Conservative  allies,  Dalton  McCarthy 
and  the  Mail  newspaper,  in  raising  an  anti- 
French  and  anti-Catholic  cry  threatened 
disaster  in  Ontario.  The  friendly  provincial 
Government  in  Quebec  had  been  over- 
thrown in  October  1886,  and  in  the  following 

160          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

December  Oliver  Mowat,  in  the  hope  of 
strengthening  the  hands  of  Blake,  then  leading 
the  Ottawa  Opposition,  suddenly  dissolved 
the  Ontario  legislature.  Mowat  was  success- 
ful in  his  own  appeal.  But,  strange  to  say, 
the  local  triumph  probably  injured  rather 
than  aided  Blake.  At  least  such  was  Sir 
John's  opinion.  He  held  that  his  attitude 
on  the  Home  Rule  question  had  alienated  a 
goodly  proportion  of  the  Irish  vote  which 
usually  went  with  him,  and  that  these  people, 
having  taken  the  edge  off  their  resentment  by 
voting  Liberal  in  the  provincial  elections, 
felt  free  to  return  to  their  political  allegiance 
when  the  Dominion  elections  came  on  two 
months  later.  This  sounds  far-fetched,  but 
it  was  the  opinion  of  a  man  who  had  been 
studying  political  elections  in  Ontario  all  his 
long  life.  At  any  rate,  Sir  John  Macdonald 
carried  fifty-four  out  of  ninety-two  seats  in 
Ontario ;  and  Edward  Blake  was  so  dis- 
couraged by  the  result  that  on  the  meeting  of 
the  new  parliament  he  resigned  the  leader- 
ship of  the  Opposition  in  favour  of  Mr 

Of  Sir  Wilfrid  Laurier  and  his  subsequent 
career  it  does  not  devolve  upon  me  to  speak. 
I  will  only  say  that  if  his  predecessors  in  the 

OLD  AGE  161 

leadership  of  the  Liberal  party,  for  one  cause 
or  another,  failed  to  realize  the  hopes  of  their 
political  followers,  he  amply  made  up  for  their 
shortcomings  by  achieving  signal  success. 
Fortune,  no  doubt,  was  kinder  to  him  than 
to  them,  but,  apart  from  all  other  questions, 
Sir  Wilfrid's  personal  qualities  had  no  small 
influence  in  bringing  about  his  party  triumphs. 
Alike  in  Opposition  and  in  power,  his  unfail- 
ing tact,  old-fashioned  courtesy,  conciliatory 
methods,  urbanity,  moderation,  and  unvary- 
ing good  temper  evoked  the  sympathy  of 
thousands  whom  Blake's  coldly  intellectual 
feats  failed  to  attract  and  Mackenzie's  rigidity 
of  demeanour  served  only  to  repel.  Simul- 
taneously with  Mr  Laurier's  advent  to  the 
leadership  of  the  Opposition  in  1887,  a 
moderating  influence  began  to  be  felt  in  the 
House  of  Commons,  which  gradually  affected 
the  whole  tone  of  political  life  in  Canada,  until 
the  old-time  bitterness  of  party  strife  in  a 
large  measure  passed  away. 

About  a  month  before  Sir  John  Macdonald 
died  Mr  Laurier  came  to  his  office  in  the  House 
of  Commons  to  discuss  some  question  of 
adjournment.  When  he  had  gone,  the  chief 
said  to  me,  '  Nice  chap  that.  If  I  were 
twenty  years  younger,  he  'd  be  my  colleague.' 

D.J.M.  L 

162          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

'  Perhaps  he  may  be  yet,  sir,'  I  remarked. 
Sir  John  shook  his  head.  '  Too  old/  said 
he,  *  too  old,'  and  passed  into  the  inner 

I  must  not  omit  an  amusing  incident  which 
happened  in  the  autumn  of  1888.  During 
the  summer  of  that  year  Honore  Mercier,  the 
Liberal  prime  minister  of  Quebec,  had  called 
upon  Sir  John  at  the  Inch  Arran  hotel  at 
Dalhousie,  New  Brunswick.  It  was  the  first 
time  they  had  met,  and  Mercier,  who  showed 
a  disposition  to  be  friendly,  asked  Sir  John  if 
he  would  give  him  an  interview  with  himself 
and  his  colleagues  at  Ottawa  in  order  to  dis- 
cuss some  financial  questions  '  outstanding 
between  the  Dominion  and  the  province.  Sir 
John  promised  to  do  so,  and  when  he  returned 
to  town  fixed  a  day  for  the  meeting.  In  the 
preceding  July  the  Quebec  legislature  had 
passed  the  once  famous  Jesuits'  Estates  Act. 
This  Act  was  then  before  Sir  John's  Cabinet 
and  he  was  under  strong  pressure  to  disallow 
it.  While  Sir  John  had  no  love  for  Mercier 
or  his  Government,  and  while  he  thought  the 
preamble  of  the  Jesuits'  Estates  Act,  with  its 
ostentatious  references  to  the  Pope,  highly 
objectionable,  he  had  no  doubt  that  the  Act 
was  wholly  within  the  competence  of  the 

OLD  AGE  163 

Quebec  legislature  and  was  not  a  subject  for 
disallowance.  Obviously  Quebec  could  do 
what  it  liked  with  its  own  money.  Sir  John 
was  having  much  trouble  at  the  time  with 
several  of  the  provincial  legislatures,  which 
were  showing  a  disposition  to  encroach  upon 
the  federal  domain.  It  was  necessary  that 
he  should  walk  warily,  lest  he  should  put 
himself  in  the  wrong  by  interfering  with 
legislation  clearly  within  the  power  of  pro- 
vincial legislatures.  He  was  persuaded  that 
the  obnoxious  phrases  in  the  preamble  of 
the  Jesuits'  Estates  Act  had  been  inserted 
with  the  express  object  of  tempting  him  to  an 
arbitrary  and  unjust  exercise  of  power  which 
would  react  disastrously  upon  him,  not  only 
in  Quebec,  but  also  in  Ontario,  Manitoba,  and 
elsewhere.  It  was  all  too  palpable,  and,  as  he 
used  to  say,  '  in  vain  is  the  net  spread  in  the 
sight  of  any  bird.' 

Mercier's  visit,  however,  had  no  relation  to 
this  matter,  but  had  been  arranged  for  the 
discussion  of  purely  financial  matters  with  Sir 
John  and  his  colleagues.  The  appointed  morn- 
ing arrived,  and  Mercier,  frock-coated  and 
very  formal  and  precise,  was  shown  into  Sir 
John's  office.  A  meeting  of  Council  had  been 
called  for  the  occasion,  and  while  the  members 

164          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

were  gathering  the  two  leaders  exchanged  a 
few  remarks  of  a  purely  conventional  char- 
acter. At  length,  when  all  was  ready,  Sir 
John  rose  and,  with  a  stiff  bow  and  *  Will  you 
follow  me,  sir  ?  '  led  the  way  along  the  hall 
towards  the  council  chamber,  with  Mercier 
close  behind  him.  As  they  turned  into  the 
corridor  leading  to  the  chamber,  Mercier, 
feeling  some  constraint  and  wishing  to  make 
a  little  conversation,  said,  half  jokingly,  '  Sir 
John,  I  wish  you  would  tell  us  whether  you 
are  going  to  disallow  our  Jesuits*  Estates  Act 
or.  not.'  Suddenly  the  old  man  unbent,  his  eyes 
brightened,  his  features  grew  mobile,  as  he 
half  looked  back  over  his  shoulder  and  said  in 
a  stage  whisper,  '  Do  you  take  me  for  a  damn 
fool  ?  '  In  a  second  it  was  all  over,  his  figure 
again  became  erect,  all  trace  of  expression 
died  out  of  his  face,  and  with  measured  pace 
and  serious  mien  the  two  men  passed  into  the 
council  chamber. 

My  recollections  of  the  day  of  Sir  John 
Macdonald  are  chiefly  connected  with  official, 
as  distinct  from  parliamentary,  life.  At  the 
same  time  I  recall  many  amusing  incidents 
which  took  place  in  the  House  of  Commons. 
Of  all  the  members  of  that  assembly  I  thought 
Sir  Richard  Cartwright  the  most  accomplished 

OLD  AGE  165 

debater.  He  was  perhaps  the  only  member 
of  the  House  who  could  afford  to  have  his 
words  taken  down  and  printed  exactly  as 
he  spoke  them.  Uniformly  a  kind  and  con- 
siderate minister  towards  his  subordinates, 
his  attitude  towards  his  opponents  in  parlia- 
ment was  ferocious,  though  perhaps  this 
ferocity  was  often  more  simulated  than  real. 
One  illustration  of  his  savage  humour  occurs 
to  me.  About  the  year  1883  a  life  of  Sir 
John  Macdonald  appeared  written  by  a  certain 
John  Edmund  Collins.  Sir  John  did  not 
know  the  author,  nor  had  he  any  connection 
with  the  book.  It  was  merely  a  well-ordered 
presentation  of  facts  already  known,  and  did 
not  profess  to  be  anything  more.  Some  of  the 
government  departments  bought  copies  and 
the  title  appeared  in  the  public  accounts, 
which  came  before  parliament.  This  gave 
Sir  Richard  one  of  those  opportunities  to 
attack  Sir  John  of  which  he  never  failed  to 
take  advantage.  After  saying  some  disagree- 
able things,  he  concluded  thus  :  '  Hoy/ever, 
Mr  Speaker,  I  am  bound  to  say  that  I  think  it 
quite  fit  that  a  gentleman  who  in  his  day  has 
done  justice  to  so  many  John  Collinses,  should 
at  last  have  a  John  Collins  to  do  justice  to 
him.'  To  the  uninitiated  it  may  be  explained 

166          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

that  '  John  Collins '  is  the  name  of  a  rather 
potent  beverage. 

This  pointed  allusion  to  Sir  John's  convivial 
habits  leads  me  to  say,  in  all  candour,  that  his 
failings  in  this  regard  were  greatly  exaggerated. 
There  is  no  doubt  that  at  one  time — in  an  age 
when  almost  everybody  drank  wine  freely — 
he  was  no  exception  to  the  general  rule.  This 
was  particularly  true  of  the  period  of  his 
widowerhood,  between  1857  and  1867,  when 
his  lapses  were  such  as  occasionally  to  inter- 
fere with  his  public  duties.  But  certainly 
during  the  last  ten  years  of  his  life  (and  pro- 
bably for  a  longei^  period)  his  habits  were  most 
temperate.  His  principal  beverages  were  milk 
and  at  dinner  a  glass  of  claret.  I  rarely  knew 
him  to  touch  spirits,  and  if  he  did  so  now  and 
then,  it  was  in  great  moderation. 

Sir  John  Macdonald  never  seems  to  have 
felt  towards  Sir  Richard  Cartwright  the  degree 
of  bitterness  that  marked  Cartwright 's  pursuit 
of  him.  I  do  not  pretend  to  say  that  he  liked 
him,  but  he  was  always  fair.  This  letter  to  an 
over-zealous  supporter  may  perhaps  serve  as 
an  illustration. 

OTTAWA,  2Sth  March  1891. 

DEAR  SIR, — I  have  yours  of  the  23rd 
instant   informing   me   that   Sir    Richard 

OLD  AGE  167 

Cartwright  is  going  to  Kingston  to  inquire 
into  some  matters  with  regard  to  the  Pro- 
vincial penitentiary.  He  has  a  right  to 
do  so  as  a  member  of  Parliament,  nor  do 
I  think  that  any  impediment  should  be 
thrown  in  his  way.  If  there  be  any  irregu- 
larities committed  in  the  penitentiary, 
there  are  no  reasons  why  they  should  be 
hidden,  and  the  parties  committing  irregu- 
larities properly  dealt  with. — I  am,  dear 
sir,  yours  very  truly, 


No  sketch  of  the  House  of  Commons  of  those 
days,  however  brief,  should  omit  mention  of 
Alonzo  Wright,  the  *  King  of  the  Gatineau,' 
as  he  was  commonly  known.  Wright  was  a 
genial,  whole-souled  plutocrat  of  the  old 
school.  He  represented  the  county  of  Ottawa, 
and  resided  on  the  banks  of  the  Gatineau 
river,  where  his  hospitable  doors  were  ever 
open  to  his  many  friends.  He  was  an  old- 
fashioned  Tory,  but  never  took  politics  very 
seriously.  Sometimes,  indeed,  he  showed 
symptoms  of  independence,  but,  as  Sir  John 
used  laughingly  to  say,  '  while  Alonzo's 
speeches  are  sometimes  wrong,  his  vote  is 
always  right.'  Sir  John,  of  course,  was  quite 

i68          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

satisfied  with  this  arrangement.  Once  a  year, 
to  the  great  entertainment  of  the  House, 
Wright  would  make  a  characteristic  speech, 
felicitously  phrased  and  brimful  of  humour. 
One  of  these  harangues  in  particular  remains 
in  my  recollection.  Like  all  good-natured 
members  residing  near  the  capital,  '  Alonzo  ' 
was  much  plagued  by  office-seekers  of  all 
classes.  Among  these  was  a  certain  Madame 
Laplante  of  Hull,  whose  aspirations  did  not 
rise  above  a  charwoman's  place.  She  was  un- 
usually persistent.  One  day,  as  the  *  King  ' 
was  driving  over  the  Sappers  Bridge,  he  saw  a 
woman  in  front  of  his  horses  waving  her  arms 
wildly  as  a  signal  to  stop.  He  pulled  up, 
and  saw  that  it  was  Madame  Laplante.  Being 
rather  hazy  as  to  her  present  fortunes,  he 
ventured  to  express  the  hope  that  she  liked 
the  position  which  he  had  been  so  fortunate 
as  to  obtain  for  her.  Madame  Laplante,  with 
sobs,  said  that  she  was  still  without  work. 
At  this  the  '  King  '  feigned  unbounded  in- 
dignation. The  rest  must  be  told  in  his  own 

*  Impossible,'  I  made  answer.  '  It  can- 
not be.'  Upon  receiving  renewed  assur- 
ances that  so  it  was,  my  resolution  was 

OLD  AGE  169 

taken  in  an  instant.  Turning  my  carriage 
I  bade  the  weeping  woman  enter,  and  drove 
at  once  to  the  Public  Departments.  Brush- 
ing aside  the  minions  who  sought  to  arrest 
our  progress,  I  strode  unannounced  into 
the  Ministerial  presence.  *  Sir/  said  I, 
'  I  have  come  to  you  as  a  suitor  for  the 
last  time.  You  may  remember  that  you 
promised  me  that  this  worthy  woman 
should  be  employed  forthwith.  I  learn 
to-day  that  that  promise,  like  many  others 
you  have  made  me,  is  still  unfulfilled. 
There  is  a  time  when  patience  ceases  to  be 
a  virtue.  Sir,  my  resolution  is  taken.  I 
am  as  good  a  party  man  as  lives,  but  there 
is  something  that  I  value  more  than  my 
party,  and  that  is  my  self-respect.  This 
afternoon  my  resignation  shall  be  in  the 
hands  of  the  Speaker,  and  I  shall  then  be 
free  to  state  publicly  the  sentiments  I 
entertain  towards  all  violators  of  their 
word,  and  by  the  aid  of  this  victim  of 
duplicity,  to  expose  your  perfidious  treat- 
ment of  one  of  your  hitherto  most  faithful 
supporters. '  My  arguments,  my  entreaties, 
my  threats  prevailed,  and  Madame  La- 
plante  that  day  entered  the  service  of  her 
country,  which  she  continues  to  adorn ! 

170          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

Many  delightful  stories  are  told  of  Mac- 
donald's  ally,  Lord  Strathcona.  I  have  room 
for  only  two.  A  seedy-looking  person  named 
M* Donald  once  called  at  the  high  commis- 
sioner's office  in  London.  When  asked  the 
nature  of  his  business,  he  replied  that  he  was 
in  straitened  circumstances,  and  that  when 
Lord  Strathcona,  as  young  Donald  Smith,  had 
left  Forres  in  Scotland  for  America,  he  had 
been  driven  to  the  port  whence  he  sailed  by 
his  present  visitor's  father.  When  the  secre- 
tary had  duly  informed  Lord  Strathcona 
of  this,  word  was  given  to  admit  McDonald. 
Presently  the  bell  rang,  and  the  secretary 
appeared.  '  Make  out  a  cheque  for  £5  in 
favour  of  Mr  M*  Donald,'  said  Lord  Strath- 
cona. This  was  done,  and  M*  Donald  went 
on  his  way  rejoicing.  In  a  month  or  so  he 
turned  up  again  ;  the  same  thing  happened, 
and  again  he  departed  with  a  five-pound 
cheque.  This  went  on  for  several  months  ; 
but  M* Donald  came  once  too  often.  On  the 
occasion  of  his  last  visit  Lord  Strathcona  did 
not  happen  to  be  in  a  complaisant  mood. 
When  M'Donald  was  announced  he  said  to  the 
secretary  :  '  Tell  him  I  '11  not  see  him.  And 
as  for  Mr  McDonald's  father  having  driven 
me  from  Forres  when  I  went  to  America, 

OLD  AGE  171 

it  is  not  true,  sir !    /  walked,  sir ! ' — the  last 
three  words  with  tremendous  emphasis. 

During  one  of  Donald  Smith's  election  con- 
tests in  Manitoba  he  felt  some  uneasiness  as 
to  the  probable  course  of  a  knot  of  half-breeds 
in  his  constituency,  but  was  assured  by  his 
election  agent  that  these  people  were  being 
4  looked  after,'  and  that  he  need  not  have  any 
apprehension  in  regard  to  them.  This  agent 
belonged  to  a  class  of  westerners  noted  for  the 
vigour  rather  than  for  the  correctness  of  their 
language.  Smith  himself,  as  is  well  known, 
was  always  most  proper  in  this  respect. 
Now,  it  so  happened  that  in  the  last  hours  of 
the  campaign  the  half-breeds  who  were  the 
objects  of  his  solicitude  were  beguiled  by  the 
enemy,  and  that  they  voted  against  Smith, 
who  lost  the  election.  He  felt  this  defeat 
very  keenly,  and  so  did  his  agent,  who  had  to 
bear  the  additional  mortification  of  having 
unintentionally  misled  his  principal.  When 
the  results  of  the  polling  were  announced, 
the  agent  relieved  his  feelings  by  denouncing 
the  delinquent  half-breeds  in  true  Hudson's 
Bay  style,  and  at  every  opprobrious  and 
profane  epithet  Smith  was  heard  to  murmur 
with  sympathetic  approval,  '  Are  they  not, 
Mr ?  are  they  not  ?  are  they  not  ?  ' 

172          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

During  the  period  between  1887  and  1891 
the  Opposition  developed  the  policy  of  unre- 
stricted reciprocity  with  the  United  States, 
which  they  made  the  chief  feature  of  their 
policy  in  the  general  elections  of  the  latter 
year.  Sir  John  Macdonald  opposed  this 
policy  with  all  the  energy  at  his  command. 
He  held  that  it  would  inevitably  lead  to  the 
absorption  of  Canada  by  the  United  States, 
though  he  did  not  believe  that  this  was  the 
desire  or  the  intention  of  its  chief  promoters. 
Sir  John  feared  too  that  the  cry  would  prove 
seductive.  In  the  hope  of  arresting  the  move- 
ment before  it  had  more  fully  advanced,  he 
dissolved  parliament  prematurely  and  ap- 
pealed to  the  people  in  mid-winter.  In  this 
resolve  he  was  perhaps  influenced  by  a  grow- 
ing consciousness  of  his  failing  physical 
strength.  He  was  less  pessimistic  as  to  the 
result  of  the  election  than  in  1887,  yet  he 
considered  his  chances  of  success  not  more 
than  even.  As  on  previous  occasions,  he  had 
recourse  to  Sir  Charles  Tupper,  to  whom  he 
cabled  on  January  21,  1891 :  *  Your  presence 
during  election  contest  in  Maritime  Provinces 
essential  to  encourage  our  friends.  Please 
come.  Answer.' 

The    old    war-horse,    who    doubtless    had 

OLD  AGE  173 

scented  the  battle  from  afar,  was  not  slow  in 
responding  to  his  leader's  appeal.  The  con- 
test was  severe,  and  on  Sir  John's  part  was 
fought  almost  single-handed.  His  Ontario 
colleagues  were  too  busy  in  defending  their 
own  seats  to  render  him  much  assistance  in 
the  province  at  large.  It  was  on  this  occasion 
that  he  issued  his  famous  manifesto  to  the 
people  of  Canada  containing  the  well-known 
phrase :  '  A  British  subject  I  was  born,  a 
British  subject  I  will  die.'  In  this  manifesto 
he  earnestly  exhorted  the  electors  to  reject  a 
policy  which,  he  was  persuaded,  would  imperil 
their  British  allegiance.  The  people  who  had 
so  often  sustained  him  in  the  past  responded 
to  his  fervent  appeal,  and  again  he  was 
victorious.  Nor  had  he  to  wait  long  for  a 
signal  confirmation  of  his  estimate  of  the 
policy  of  his  opponents.  On  the  day  after 
the  polling  Edward  Blake  published  a  letter 
to  his  constituents  in  West  Durham,  unspar- 
ingly condemning  unrestricted  reciprocity  as 
tending  towards  annexation  to  the  United 
States — '  a  precursor  of  political  Union  ' — of 
which  he  was  unable  to  approve,  and  in  conse- 
quence of  which  he  retired  from  public  life. 

Macdonald  had  won,  but  it  was  his  last 
triumph.     The  wheel  had   gone   full   circle. 

174          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

and  he,  who  in  the  flush  of  youth  had  begun 
his  political  career  with  the  announcement 
of  his  firm  resolve  to  resist,  from  whatever 
quarter  it  might  come,  any  attempt  which 
might  tend  to  weaken  the  union  between 
Canada  and  the  mother  country,  fittingly 
closed  it  forty-seven  years  later  by  an  appeal 
to  the  people  of  the  Dominion  to  aid  him  in 
his  last  effort '  for  the  unity  of  the  Empire 
and  the  preservation  of  our  commercial  and 
political  freedom/  He  won,  but  the  effort 
proved  too  great  for  his  waning  vitality,  and 
within  three  months  of  his  victory  he  passed 

In  The  Times  of  September  i,  1903,  Dr 
L.  S.  (now  Sir  Starr)  Jameson  published  this 
letter  from  Cecil  Rhodes  to  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald : 

CAPE  TOWN,  8th  May  1891. 

DEAR  SIR, — I  wished  to  write  and  con- 
gratulate you  on  winning  the  elections  in 
Canada.  I  read  your  manifesto  and  I 
could  understand  the  issue.  If  I  might 
express  a  wish,  it  would  be  that  we  could 
meet  before  our  stern  fate  claims  us.  I 
might  write  pages,  but  I  feel  I  know  you 
and  your  politics  as  if  we  had  been  friends 
for  years.  The  whole  thing  lies  in  the 

OLD  AGE  175 

question,  Can  we  invent  some  tie  with  our 
mother  country  that  will  prevent  separa- 
tion ?  It  must  be  a  practical  one,  for 
future  generations  will  not  be  born  in 
England.  The  curse  is  that  English  poli- 
ticians cannot  see  the  future.  They  think 
they  will  always  be  the  manufacturing 
mart  of  the  world,  but  do  not  under- 
stand what  protection  coupled  with  re- 
ciprocal relations  means.  I  have  taken 
the  liberty  of  writing  to  you ;  if  you  honour 
me  with  an  answer  I  will  write  again. — 
Yours,  C.  J.  RHODES. 

PS.  You  might  not  know  who  I  am, 
so  I  will  say  I  am  the  Prime  Minister  of 
this  Colony — that  is  the  Cape  Colony. 

Sir  John  Macdonald  never  received  this 
letter.  It  was  written  in  South  Africa  in 
May,  and  Sir  John  died  on  June  6. 

Sir  John  Macdonald's  resemblance  to  Lord 
Beaconsfield  has  often  been  remarked.  That 
it  must  have  been  striking  is  evident  from  Sir 
Charles  Dilke's  comment : 

The  first  time  I  saw  Sir  John  Macdonald 
was  shortly  after  Lord  Beaconsfield's  death 
and  as  the  clock  struck  midnight.  I  was 

176          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

starting  from  Huston  station,  and  there 
appeared  at  the  step  of  the  railway 
carriage,  in  Privy  Councillor's  uniform 
(the  right  to  wear  which  is  confined  to  so 
small  a  number  of  persons  that  one  ex- 
pects to  know  by  sight  those  who  wear  it), 
a  figure  precisely  similar  to  that  of  the  late 
Conservative  leader,  and  it  required,  in- 
deed, a  severe  exercise  of  presence  of  mind 
to  remember  that  there  had  been  a  City 
banquet  from  which  the  apparition  must 
be  coming,  and  rapidly  to  arrive  by  a  pro- 
cess of  exhaustion  at  the  knowledge  that 
this  twin  brother  of  that  Lord  Beaconsfield 
whom  shortly  before  I  had  seen  in  the  sick 
room,  which  he  was  not  to  leave,  must  be 
the  Prime  Minister  of  Canada.* 

At  an  evening  reception  in  London,  Sir 
John,  who  was  standing  a  little  apart,  saw  a 
lady  attract  another's  attention,  saying  in 
an  earnest  whisper,  '  You  say  you  have  never 
seen  Lord  Beaconsfield.  There  he  is,'  point- 
ing to  Sir  John. 

Sir  John  Macdonald's  underlying  and  con- 
trolling thought  was  ever  for  the  British 
Empire.  That  Canada  should  exist  separate 

*  Problems  of  Greater  Britain,  p.  44. 

OLD  AGE  177 

and  apart  from  England  was  a  contingency 
he  never  contemplated.  The  bare  mention  of 
such  a  possibility  always  evoked  his  strongest 
condemnation  as  being  fatal  to  the  realization 
of  a  united  Empire,  which  was  the  dominant 
aspiration  of  his  life.*  To  see  Canada,  Aus- 
tralia, and  South  Africa  united  by  ties  of 
loyalty,  affection,  and  material  interest ;  to 
see  them  ranged  round  the  mother  country  as 
a  protection  and  a  defence — to  see  the  dear 
land  of  England  secure,  to  see  her  strong  in 
every  quarter  of  the  globe,  mistress  of  the 
seas,  '  with  the  waves  rolling  about  her  feet, 

*  *  Some  few  fools  at  Montreal  are  talking  about  Independence, 
which  is  another  name  for  Annexation.  The  latter  cry,  how- 
ever, is  unpopular  from  its  disloyalty,  and  the  Annexationists 
have  changed  their  note  and  speak  of  the  Dominion  being  changed 
into  an  independent  but  friendly  kingdom.  This  is  simply  non- 
sense. British  America  must  belong  either  to  the  American  or 
British  System  of  Government*  (Sir  John  Macdonald  to  the 
Hon.  R.  W.  W.  Carrall,  dated  Ottawa,  September  29,  1869). 

'  A  cardinal  point  in  our  policy  is  connection  with  England.  I 
have  no  patience  with  those  men  who  talk  as  if  the  time  must 
come  when  we  must  separate  from  England.  I  see  no  necessity 
for  it.  I  see  no  necessity  for  such  a  culmination,  and  the  discus- 
sion or  the  mention  of  it  and  the  suggestion  of  it  to  the  people 
can  only  be  mischievous*  (Liberal-Conservative  Hand  Booh,  1876, 
pp.  22-3). 

'  As  to  Independence — to  talk  of  Independence  is— to  use  Mr 
Disraeli's  happy  phrase — "  veiled  treason."  It  is  Annexation  in 
disguise,  and  I  am  certain  that  if  we  were  severed  from  England, 
and  were  now  standing  alone  with  our  four  millions  of  people, 

D.J.M.  M 

178          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

happy  in  her  children  and  her  children  blessed 
in  her*  —  such  was  Sir  John  Macdonald's 
dearest  wish.  As  his  devoted  wife  has  most 
truly  written  of  him  : 

Through  all  the  fever,  the  struggles,  the 
battles,  hopes  and  fears,  disappointments 
and  successes,  joys  and  sorrows,  anxieties 
and  rewards  of  those  long  busy  years,  this 
fixed  idea  of  an  united  Empire  was  his 
guiding  star  and  inspiration.  I,  who  can 
speak  with  something  like  authority  on 
this  point,  declare  that  I  do  not  think  any 
man's  mind  could  be  more  fully  possessed 

the  consequence  would  be  that  before  five  years  we  should  be 
absorbed  into  the  United  States '  (ibid.,  p.  24). 

'  The  solid  substantial  advantage  of  being  able  to  obtain  money 
on  better  terms  than  we  could  on  our  own  credit  alone  is  not  the 
only  benefit  this  guarantee  will  confer  upon  us ;  for  it  will  put 
a  finish  to  the  hopes  of  all  dreamers  or  speculators  who  desire  or 
believe  in  the  alienation  and  separation  of  the  colonies  from  the 
mother  country.  That  is  a  more  incalculable  benefit  than  the 
mere  advantage  of  England's  guarantee  of  our  financial  stability, 
great  and  important  as  that  is'  (Debates,  House  of  Commons, 
1872,  p.  339). 

*  Gentlemen,  we  want  no  independence  in  this  country,  except 
the   independence  we    have  at  this   moment'    (Report  of  the 
Demonstration  in  Honour  of  the  Fortieth  Anniversary  of  Sir  John  A. 
Macdonald's  Entrance  into  Public  Life.     Toronto,  1885,  p.  103). 

*  Those  who  disliked  the  colonial  connection  spoke  of  it  as 
a  chain,  but  it  was  a  golden  chain,  and  he  for  one,  was  glad  to 
wear  the  fetters'  (Debates,  House  of  Commons,  1875,  p.  981). 

OLD  AGE  179 

of  an  overwhelming  strong  principle  than 
was  this  man's  mind  of  this  principle.  It 
was  the  *  Empire  '  and  '  England's  pre- 
cedent '  always,  in  things  great  and  small 
— from  the  pattern  of  a  ceremony,  or  the 
spelling  of  a  word,  to  the  shaping  of 
laws  and  the  modelling  of  a  constitution. 
With  a  courage  at  once  fierce  and  gentle, 
generally  in  the  face  of  tremendous  op- 
position, often  against  dangerous  odds, 
he  carried  measure  after  measure  in  the 
Canadian  Parliament,  each  measure  a 
stone  in  the  edifice  of  empire  which  he  so 
passionately  believed  in  and  was  so  proud 
to  help  build  and  rear.* 

A  parliamentary  federation  of  the  Empire 
he  considered  impracticable.  He  did  not  be- 
lieve that  the  people  of  Canada — or  of  any 
other  dependency  of  Great  Britain — would 
ever  consent  to  be  taxed  by  a  central  body 
sitting  outside  its  borders,  nor  did  he  relish 
the  idea  that  the  mother  of  parliaments  at 
Westminster  should  be  subordinated  to  any 
federal  legislature,  no  matter  how  dignified 
and  important  it  might  be.  He  believed  in 
allowing  Canada's  relations  with  the  mother 

*  Montreal  Gazette,  October  25,  1897. 

i8o          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

country  to  remain  as  they  are.    To  use  his  own 
words,  spoken  within  a  year  or  so  of  his  death : 

I  am  satisfied  that  the  vast  majority  of 
the  people  of  Canada  are  in  favour  of  the 
continuance  and  perpetuation  of  the  con- 
nection between  the  Dominion  and  the 
mother  country.  There  is  nothing  to  gain 
and  everything  to  lose  by  separation.  I 
believe  that  if  any  party  or  person  were  to 
announce  or  declare  such  a  thing,  whether 
by  annexation  with  the  neighbouring 
country,  the  great  republic  to  the  south 
of  us,  or  by  declaring  for  independence,  I 
believe  that  the  people  of  Canada  would 
say  '  No.'  We  are  content,  we  are  pros- 
perous, we  have  prospered  under  the  flag  of 
England  ;  and  I  say  that  it  would  be  un- 
wise, that  we  should  be  lunatics,  to  change 
the  certain  present  happiness  for  the  un- 
certain chances  of  the  future.  I  always 
remember,  when  this  occurs*  to  me,  the 
Italian  epitaph  :  '  I  was  well,  I  would  be 
better,  and  here  I  am.'  We  are  well,  we 
know,  all  are  well,  and  I  am  satisfied  that 
the  majority  of  the  people  of  Canada  are 
of  the  same  opinion  which  I  now  venture 
to  express  here.  ...  I  say  that  it  would 

OLD  AGE  181 

bring  ruin  and  misfortune,  any  separation 
from  the  United  Kingdom.  I  believe  that 
is  the  feeling  of  the  present  Parliament 
of  Canada,  and  I  am  certain  that  any  party, 
or  the  supposed  party,  making  an  appeal 
to  the  people  of  Canada,  or  any  persons 
attempting  to  form  a  party  on  the  principle 
of  separation  from  England,  no  matter 
whether  they  should  propose  to  walk  alone, 
or  join  another  country,  I  believe  that  the 
people  of  Canada  would  rise  almost  to  a 
man  and  say, '  No,  we  will  do  as  our  fathers 
have  done.  We  are  content,  and  our 
children  are  content,  to  live  under  the  flag 
of  Great  Britain.'  * 

Macdonald  did  not  believe  in  forcing  the 
pace.  He  looked  for  a  preferential  trade 
arrangement  with  the  United  Kingdom,  and 
the  establishment  of  a  common  system  of 
defence.  In  all  other  respects  he  desired  the 
maintenance  of  the  status  quo,  being  content 
to  leave  the  rest  to  the  future.  So  much  for 
the  Imperial  relations.  That  in  all  matters 
relating  to  its  internal  affairs  Canada  should 
continue  to  possess  the  fullest  rights  of  self- 
government,  including  exclusive  powers  of 

*  Pope's  Memoirs  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  vol.  ii,  pp.  220-1. 

182          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

taxation,  he  considered  as  an  indispensable 
condition  to  its  well-being. 

Nearly  twenty-three  years  have  passed 
since  Sir  John  Macdonald  died,  and  to-day 
his  figure  looms  even  larger  in  the  public  mind 
than  on  that  never-to-be-forgotten  June  even- 
ing when  the  tolling  bells  announced  to  the 
people  of  Ottawa  the  passing  of  his  great 
spirit.  When  one  takes  into  account  all  that 
he  had  to  contend  against  —  poverty,  in- 
different health,  the  specific  weakness  to  which 
I  have  alluded,  the  virulence  of  opponents, 
the  faint-heartedness  of  friends — and  reflects 
upon  what  he  accomplished,  one  asks  what 
was  the  secret  of  his  marvellous  success  ? 
The  answer  must  be  that  it  was  '  in  the  large 
composition  of  the  man ' ;  in  his  boundless 
courage,  patience,  perseverance  ;  and,  above 
all,  in  his  wonderful  knowledge  of  human 
nature — his  power  of  entering  into  the  hearts 
and  minds  of  those  about  him  and  of  binding 
them  to  his  service.  His  life  is  a  great  example 
and  incentive  to  young  Canadians.  Sir  John 
Macdonald  began  the  world  at  fifteen,  with 
but  a  grammar-school  education;  and,  pos- 
sessing neither  means  nor  influence  of  any 
kind,  rose  by  his  own  exertions  to  a  high  place 

OLD  AGE  183 

on  the  roll  of  British  statesmen ;  laboured  to 
build  up,  under  the  flag  of  England,  a  nation 
on  this  continent ;  and  died  full  of  years  and 
honours,  amid  the  nation's  tears. 

Looking  o'er  the  noblest  of  our  time, 

Who  climbed  those  heights  it  takes  an  age  to  climb) 

I  marked  not  one  revealing  to  mankind 

A  sweeter  nature  or  a  stronger  mind. 


THE  following  works,  dealing  in  whole  or  in  part 
with  the  day  of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  may  be  con- 
sulted :  Sir  Joseph  Pope's  Memoirs  of  the  Right 
Honourable  Sir  John  Alexander  Macdonald  (two 
vols. :  London,  Edward  Arnold,  1894)  >  Sir  John 
Willison's  Sir  Wilfrid  Laurier  and  the  Liberal 
Party  (two  vols. :  Toronto,  Morang,  1903) ;  George 
R.  Parkin's  John  A.  Macdonald  (Toronto,  Morang, 
1908) ;  Dent's  The  Last  Forty  Years,  or  Canada 
since  the  Union  of  1841  (Toronto,  1881) ;  Castell 
Hopkins's  Life  and  Work  of  Sir  John  Thompson 
(Toronto,  1895);  Sir  Richard  Cartwright's  Re- 
miniscences (Toronto,  Briggs,  1913) ;  Sir  Joseph 
Pope's  pamphlet,  Sir  John  Macdonald  Vindicated 
(Toronto,  1913) ;  Buckingham  and  Ross,  The 
Honourable  Alexander  Mackenzie:  His  Life  and 
Times  (Toronto,  1892) ;  Lewis's  George  Brown 
(Toronto,  Morang,  1906);  Sir  Charles  Tupper's 
Recollections  of  Sixty  Years  in  Canada  (London, 
Cassell,  1914). 

Consult  also  the  writings  of  W.  L.  Grant,  J.  L. 
Morison,  Edward  Kylie,  George  M.  Wrong,  John 
Lewis,  Sir  Joseph  Pope,  and  O.  D.  Skelton  in 
Canada  and  its  Provinces,  vols.  v,  vi,  and  ix. 



For  biographical  sketches  of  Robert  Baldwin, 
George  Brown,  Sir  Alexander  Campbell,  Sir 
George  Cartier,  Sir  Antoine  Dorion,  Sir  Alexander 
Gait,  Sir  Francis  Hincks,  Sir  Louis  LaFontaine, 
John  Sandfield  Macdonald,  Sir  Allan  MacNab,  Sir 
E.  P.  Tache",  Sir  John  Rose,  and  other  prominent 
persons  connected  with  this  narrative,  see  Taylor, 
Portraits  of  British  Americans  (Montreal,  1865-67) ; 
Dent,  The  Canadian  Portrait  Gallery  (Toronto, 
1880) ;  and  The  Dictionary  of  National  Biography 
(London,  1903). 


Abbott,  John,  a  colleague  of  Sir 
John  Macdonald :  subscribes 
to  Annexation  manifesto,  27 ; 
prime  minister,  142. 

Aberdeen,  Lord,  governor- 
general,  149. 

Allan,  Sir  Hugh,  and  the 
Pacific  Scandal,  97  and  note, 
99,  101. 

Annexation  manifesto  of  1849, 
some  subscribers  to,  27. 

Archibald,  Adams,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  79  ; 
lieutenant-governor  of  Mani- 
toba, 91. 

Argyll,  Duke  of,  and  Sir  John 
Macdonald,  116-17. 

Assembly.    See  Parliament. 

'Baldwin  Reformers,'  their 
union  with  the  Conservatives, 
38,  39,  46. 

Baldwin,  Robert,  with  La- 
Fontaine  in  power,  20,  28 ; 
burned  in  effigy,  22  ;  defends 
the  Liberal  -  Conservative 
alliance,  39,  46  ;  the  Common 
School  Act,  55 ;  retires  from 
public  life,  20,  31. 

Beaconsfield,  Lord,  and  Sir 
John  Macdonald,  175-6.  See 

Blake,  Edward,  22;  prime 
minister  of  Ontario,  93;  re- 
signs in  order  to  assist  his 

party  in  the  House  of  Com- 
mons, 96  ;  minister  of  Justice, 
107,  109 ;  his  opposition  to 
the  building  of  the  C.P.R., 
120  ;  is  out-generalled  on  the 
Riel  resolution,  132-3;  re- 
signs Liberal  leadership,  160 ; 
retires  from  public  life,  173 ; 
his  career  and  character,  95, 

Bo  well,  Mackenzie,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  152. 

British  Columbia,  its  admission 
into  Confederation,  93,  96, 

British  America  League,  the, 
resolutions  of,  27-8. 

British  North  America  Act,  the, 
74 ;  and  the  qualification  of 
voters,  133. 

Brown,  George,  founds  the 
'Globe/  18;  stirs  up  racial 
and  religious  strife  between 
Upper  and  Lower  Canada, 
29-31,  32,  7i;  his  antagon- 
ism towards  Macdonald,  32 
and  note,  33,  46-7,  95,  117; 
opposes  Seigneurial  Tenure 
and  Clergy  Reserves  Bills, 
45  and  note;  leader  of  the 
Clear  Grits,  47  ;  his  policy  of 
Rep.  by  Pop.,  54-5,  67,  69, 
72 ;  his  Short  Administration 
in  1858  and  humiliation,  57-8, 
59 ;  his  opinion  of  the  Double 


i88          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

Shuffle,  61 ;  joins  hands  with 
Macdonald  and  Cartier  to 
carry  through  the  scheme  of 
Confederation,  42,  71-3,  83; 
joins  the  Tache- Macdonald 
Cabinet,  73,  104;  quarrels 
with  his  colleagues  and  re- 
sumes his  ferocious  attacks 
on  the  Government,  75  and 
note  ;  out  of  Parliament,  95  ; 
his  letter  soliciting  cam- 
paign funds,  101  n. ;  his 
assassination,  18,  118. 

Campbell,  Sir  Alexander,  a 
colleague  of  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald :  studies  law  under 
Macdonald,  7-8  ;  becomes  a 
partner,  14 ;  the  aristocrat 
.  of  Macdonald's  Cabinet,  115, 

Canada,  and  the  Hudson's  Bay 
Company,  49,  88 ;  financial 
depression  in  1857,  53?  ti16 
visit  of  the  Prince  of  Wales 
(Edward  VII),  67-8;  the 
position  of  prime  minister, 
76-7;  the  transfer  of  the 
North- West,  88 ;  the  Treaty 
of  Washington,  91-3,  94 ;  the 
terms  of  union  with  British 
Columbia,  93 ;  the  building  of 
the  C.P.R.,  49-5?,  97-iQi, 
118-21 ;  the  Franchise  Act  of 
1885,  135-8  ;  reciprocity  with 
United  States,  172,  173 ;  con- 
tent to  live  under  the  flag  of 
Great  Britain,  179-81. 

Canadian  Pacific  Railway,  the, 
first  mooted,  49-52 ;  the  Paci- 
fic Scandal,  97  and  note, 
100 ;  the  building  of,  118- 

Caron,  Sir  Adolphe,  a  colleague 

of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  140, 


Cartier,  Sir  George  Etienne,  a 
colleague  of  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald: leader  of  French- 
Canadian  wing  of  Liberal- 
Conservative  governmental, 
44-5, 47, 57,  96,  "5 ;  his  work 
on  behalf  of  Confederation, 
42,  62,  78,  80;  the  Double 
Shuffle,  59-62;  his  relations 
with  Macdonald,  78,  91 ; 
negotiates  for  the  transfer  of 
the  North-West,  88. 

Cartwright,  Sir  Richard,  87, 
96 ;  takes  umbrage  at  Mac- 
donald's appointment  of 
Hincks  as  finance  minister, 
84,  85,  86  and  note,  87 ;  his 
relations  with  Macdonald, 
116,  ii8?  150,  165-7;  a  most 
accomplished  debater,  164-5. 

Cayley,  William,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  25. 

Chapleau,  Adolphe,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  140, 
142-3,  156. 

Clear  Grits,  the,  press  for  the 
secularization  of  the  Clergy 
Reserves,  29 ;  combine  with 
the  Conservatives  in  the  de- 
feat of  the  Government,  35, 
36  ;  combine  with  the  Rouges, 
47 ;  protest  against  the  choice 
of  a  capital  being  left  to  Her 
Majesty,  53;  their  success 
with  «  Rep.  by  Pop.'  and  *  No 
Popery'  in  Upper  Canada, 



ergy  Reserves  question,  the, 
29  and  note,  37,  38,  45. 
Collins,  John  Edmund,  his  book 
on  Sir  John  Macdonald,  165- 



Commercial    Bank,  failure   of 

the,  82,  86  and  note. 
Common  School  Act,  the,  55. 
Confederation,  the  scheme  of, 

62,  7i-4,  75,  7.6- 

Conservatives,  join  with  Lower 
Canadian  Liberals  in  1854, 
becoming  the  Liberal-Con- 
servative party,  36-9,  102; 
defection  among-,  69;  their 
National  Policy,  112.  See 

Costigan,  John,  and  Mac- 
donald's  Home  Rule  views, 

Derby,  Lord,  49,  58. 

Dilke,  Sir  Charles,  on  Sir  John 
Macdonald's  resemblance  to 
Lord  Beaconsfield,  175-6. 

Disraeli,  Benjamin,  58;  on 
Goldwin  Smith,  156.  See 

Dominion  of  Canada.  See 

Dorion,  A.  A.,  the  Rouge  leader, 
39-40,  47,  56,  67,  96;  his 
alliance  with  Brown,  45  and 
note ;  in  the  Macdonald-Si- 
cotte  Cabinet,  69-70;  hostile 
to  Confederation,  74. 

Dorion,  J.  B.  E.,  Tenfant  ter- 
rible, '56- 

Double  Shuffle  episode,  the,  52, 
57»  59-62. 

Draper,  W.  H.,  and  Macdon- 
ald,  13;  from  prime  minister 
to  chief  justice,  19 ;  Canadian 
commissioner  in  the  Hudson's 
Bay  Company  investigation, 

Dufferin,  Lord,  and  the  Pacific 
Scandal,  97  and  note;  and 
Macdonald,  115-16. 

Durham,  Lord,  his  Report  on 
the  state  of  Canada,  15,  34 ; 
the  question  of  its  authorship, 
15  n. 

Elgin,  Lord,  his  troubles  in  con- 
nection wijbh  the  Rebellion 
Losses  Bill,  22,  23,  24,  25. 

Family  Compact,  the,  3,  16-17, 

Farrer,  Edward,  his  amusing 
article  on  Sir  John  Macdon- 
ald, 131. 

Fitzpatrick,  Sir  Charles,  chief 
justice,  128. 

Foster,  George  E.,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  145-6, 

Fournier,  Telesphore,  56 ;  min- 
ister of  Justice,  107. 

Franchise  Act  of  1885,  the,  133- 

French  Canadians,  their  hos- 
tility to  the  Union  Act,  34- 
35 ;  and  Sir  Edmund  Head, 
40 ;  and  Rep.  by  Pop.,  54 ; 
and  the  execution  of  Riel,  127, 

Gait,  Sir  A.  T.,  a  colleague  of 
Sir  John  Macdonald :  sent 
for  in  1858,  58-9 ;  his  work  on 
behalf  of  Confederation,  62, 
72-3,  78  ;  resigns  portfolio  of 
Finance,  82,  1 13  ;  his  char- 
acter, 82-3,  84-5. 

Gladstone,  W.  JE.,  attacks  the 
Rebellion  Losses  Bill,  25 ;  his 
case  of  a  '  Double  Shuffle,'  62 
and  note ;  and  the  Fenian 
claims,  95 ;  and  Home  Rule, 



Gourlay,  Robert,  and  the  Fam- 
ily Compact,  3. 

Grandin,  Bishop  of  St  Albert, 
denounces  Louis  Riel,  129-30. 

Grand  Trunk  Railway,  open- 
ing of,  48. 

Great  Western  Railway,  open- 
ing of,  48. 

Guibord,  Joseph,  the  famous 
case  of,  1 10-12. 

Head,  Sir  Edmund,  governor- 
general,  40;  the  Double 
Shuffle  episode,  57-62. 

Hincks,  Sir  Francis,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  25 ; 
with  Morin  in  power,  20,  31 ; 
defends  the  Liberal-Conser- 
vative alliance,  37, 39 ;  leaves 
the  country,  46;  becomes 
finance  minister  under  Mac- 
donald on  his  return,  83-4, 93, 
96  ;  his  character,  85-6. 

Holton,  Luther  H.,  56,  65. 

House  of  Commons.  See  Par- 

Howe,  Joseph,  a  colleague  of 
Sir  John  Macdonald  :  his  op- 
position to  Confederation,  79 ; 
enters  the  Dominion  Cabinet, 
79-80 ;  his  work  in  connection 
with  the  transfer  of  the  North- 
West,  88-9 ;  lieutenant-gover- 
nor of  Nova  Scotia,  80. 

Hudson's  Bay  Company,  and 
the  transfer  of  the  North- 
West,  49,  51,  87-8. 

Independence  of  Parliament 
Act  of  1857,  the,  59-60. 

'Institut  Canadien,  L','  the 
members'  attitude  towards 
the  pastoral  letter  of  1858, 

1 10-12. 

jected,  48. 

Railway     pro- 

Jameson,  Sir  Starr,  and  Cecil 
Rhodes,  174. 

Jesuits'  Estates  Act,  an  amus- 
ing incident  in  connection 
with  the,  162-4. 

Jones,  Walter  R.,  his  letter  pro- 
posing a  railway  to  the  Paci- 
fic, 50-2. 

Kingston,  the  principal  town  in 
Upper  Canada  in  1815,  i,  2, 
4 ;  as  the  seat  of  government, 
14, 16, 27  n.,  52;  its  population 
compared,  14,  48. 

LaFontaine,  Sir  Louis  H., 
leader  of  French  Canadians 
in  Liberal  Government,  17, 
20,  28 ;  burned  in  effigy,  22 ; 
withdraws  from  public  life, 
20,  31,  38. 

Liberal-Conservative  party,  be- 
ginning of,  36-9,  40 ;  its  pro- 
gramme, 28. 

Landry,  P.,  speaker  of  the 
Senate,  132-3. 

Langevin,  Sir  Hector,  a  col- 
league of  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
64,  115,  132-3,  140-3. 

Laurier,  Wilfrid,  enters  Parlia- 
ment, 103;  Liberal  leader, 
137 ;  his  personality,  160-1. 

Liberal  party,  the,  its  opposi- 
tion to  the  building  of  the 
C.P.R.,  93,  97  n.,  98-9,  100, 
118,  119-21  and  note ;  its 
strength  in  1872,  96-7,  102; 
and  the  Riel  resolution,  132- 
133 ;  its  organized  obstruction 
to  Macdonald's  Franchise 
Bill,  136-7  ;  its  policy  of  un- 



restricted  reciprocity  with 
United  States,  172.  See 
Baldwin  Reformers  and  Clear 

Lower  Canada,  its  development 
between  1851  and  1861,  47-8  ; 
and  Rep.  by  Pop.  and  Non- 
sectarian  Schools,  54,  56. 

M'Carthy,  Dalton,  his  fatuous 
course  in  1887,  159. 

Macdonald,  Sir  John,  his  birth 
and  parentage,  i,  12-13;  boy- 
hood and  schooldays,  3-6  ; 
called  to  the  bar  and  opens  a 
law-office  in  Kingston,  6-7, 
14;  'Hit  him,  John,'  8-9; 
shoulders  a  musket  in  1837,  9, 
15,  16  ;  acts  as  counsel  in  the 
Von  Shoultz  affair,  9-12,  13 ; 
elected  to  the  city  council  of 
Kingston,  14 ;  his  politics,  16 
and  note,  22 ;  elected  to  As- 
sembly, 17 ;  enters  Draper's 
Cabinet,  19  and  note;  favours 
Kingston  as  the  seat  of  gov- 
ernment, 26 ;  refuses  to  sign 
the  Annexation  manifesto  and 
advocates  the  formation  of 
the  British  America  League, 
27-8;  his  policy  tending  to 
ameliorate  the  racial  and  re- 
ligious differences  existing 
between  Upper  and  Lower 
Canada,  31-2  and  note,  33-5 ; 
attorney-general,  36,  38,  39, 
107 ;  his  connection  with 
Cartier,  41,  44-5,  47,  78  ;  and 
Sir  Allan  MacNab,  41,  43-4; 
his  relations  with  Brown,  33, 
46-7,  58  n.,  71,  72-3,  104; 
prime  minister,  54;  opposes 
non-sectarian  schools,  55-6; 
the  *  Double  Shuffle '  episode, 

59-62;  and  Sir  John  Rose, 
64-5  ;  defeated  on  his  Militia 
Bill,  68-9,  75 ;  his  work  on 
behalf  of  Confederation,  42, 
7*,  72-3,  74,  75, 99, *oo ;  forms 
the  first  Dominion  Adminis- 
tration and  is  created  K.  C.  B. , 
76-7 ;  and  Sir  Charles  Tup- 
per,  79,  156-8 ;  and  Joseph 
Howe,  79-80,  and  D'Arcy 
M'Gee,  81  ;  on  Gait,  83;  on 
Gait  and  Cartwright's  de- 
fection, 84-5,  86-7,  166;  on 
his  appointment  of  Hincks  as 
finance  minister,  83-4,  85-6 ; 
his  troubles  over  the  trans- 
fer of  the  North- West,  87-8 ; 
and  Donald  A.  Smith,  89-90, 
170 ;  member  of  the  Joint  High 
Commission  which  resulted 
in  the  Treaty  of  Washington, 
91-2 ;  his  troubles  on  the  eve 
of  the  elections  of  1872,  93-4, 
100  ;  his  account  of  the  con- 
tests in  Ontario,  95-6;  the 
Pacific  Scandal,  97-101 ;  and 
Edward  Blake,  109  ;  his  Na- 
tional Policy,  112-14, 117;  his 
opinion  of  Lord  Dufferin,  115- 
116;  his  relations  with  the 
Duke  of  Argyll,  116-17;  his 
great  work  in  connection  with 
the  building  of  the  C.P.R., 
50-2,  118-26,  139;  the  trial 
and  execution  of  Louis  Riel, 
and  the  political  effect,  127- 
133 ;  his  experience  of  the 
fickleness  of  public  opinion, 
130-1 ;  his  political  strategy, 
132-3 ;  his  desire  for  a  uniform 
franchise  system,  133-4 ;  and 
the  necessity  of  a  property 
qualification  for  the  right  to 
vote,  134-5;  his  Franchise 

192          SIR  JOHN  MACDONALD 

Act,  135-8,  139 ;  a  believer  in 
the  extension  of  the  franchise 
to  single  women,  138  ;  on  his 
relations  with  Langevin,  Ca- 
ron,  and  Chapleau,  140-3 ;  and 
his  difficulty  about  his  suc- 
cessor, 141 ;  and  Sir  John 
Thompson,  146-9 ;  and:  Sir 
Alexander  Campbell,  and  Sir 
Oliver  Mowat,  7-8,  149-51 ; 
mourns  J.  H.  Pope's  loss, 
151-2 ;  his  reply  to  Sir  C.  H. 
Tupper,  153 ;  against  Irish 
Home  Rule,  154-5;  onGoldwin 
Smith,  154-6 ;  on  Sir  Wilfrid 
Laurier,  161 ;  an  amusing 
interlude  with  Honor6  Mer- 
cier,  162-4  5  a  pointed  allusion 
to  his  supposed  convivial 
habits,  165-6;  on  Alonzo 
Wright,  the  'King,'  167;  op- 
posed to  unrestricted  reci- 
procity with  United  States, 
172 ;  his  famous  manifesto 
of  1891,  173-4;  and  Cecil 
Rhodes,  174-5;  his  resem- 
blance to  Lord  Beaconsfield, 
175-6;  his  Imperialism,  17, 
92,  154-5,  174,  176-82;  his 
character,  12-13,  I39>-40»  158- 
X59»  I78-9>  182-3  >  his  death, 

Macdonald,  John  Sandfield,  a 
'political  Ishmaelite,'  63;  in 
power  with  L.  V.  Sicotte,  69- 
70,  81 ;  opposed  to  Confedera- 
tion, 74;  prime  minister  of 
Ontario,  93,  95. 

M'Dougall,  William,  a  col- 
league of  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
63 ;  his  work  on  behalf  of  Con- 
federation, 73, 77 ;  lieutenant- 
governor  of  the  North- West, 

M'Gee,  Thomas  D'Arcy,  a  col- 
league of  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
63,  8 1 ;  his  career  and  assassi- 
nation, 8 1 -2. 

Mackenzie,  Alexander,  leader 
of  Liberals,  96,  114,  117, 120- 
I2i  ;  prime  minister,  103, 105  ; 
his  career  and  character,  103- 
104,  133. 

MacNab,  Sir  Allan,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  25 ; 
prime  minister,  36-7,  41 ;  his 
career,  42-4. 

Macpherson,  Sir  David,  a  col- 
league of  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
27,  98  n.,  119 ;  minister  of  In- 
terior, 143-4. 

Maitland,  Sir  Peregrine,  lieu- 
tenant-governor, 3. 

Mercier,  H  on  ore,  prime  minis- 
ter of  Quebec,  132  ;  his  inter- 
view with  Sir  John  Macdon- 
ald, 162-4. 

Metcalfe,  Sir  Charles,  gover- 
nor-general, 17. 

Militia,  commission  on,  68-9. 

Moderate  Reformers.  See 
Baldwin  Reformers. 

Monck,  Lord,  and  the  first  Do- 
minion Cabinet,  76-7 ;  and 
the  first  Dominion  Day  hon- 
ours, 77-8. 

Montreal,  the  seat  of  govern- 
ment, 18-19,  26,  27  n.,  52 ;  its 
population,  48;  the  riots  in 
connection  with  the  Rebellion 
Losses  Bill,  22,  23-6. 

Morin,  A.  N.,  a  colleague  of 
Sir  John  Macdonald :  leader 
of  French-Canadian  wing  of 
Liberal  Government,  31 ;  and 
of  Liberal-Conservatives,  36- 
39 ;  retires  to  the  bench, 



Morris,  Alexander,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonalci,  72. 

Mount  Stephen,  Lord,  113,  141 ; 
introduces  Donald  A.  Smith  to 
Macdonald,  89,  90  ;  president 
of  the  C.  P.  R.,  122,  125 ;  his 
letter  to  Sir  John  Macdonald, 
123-4 ;  a.nd  the  reply,  125  n. 

Mowat,  Sir  Oliver,  studies  law 
under  Macdonald,  7-8 ;  in 
Brown's  Short  Administra- 
tion, 64  ;  his  work  on  behalf 
of  Confederation,  73;  prime 
minister  of  Ontario,  96,  160. 

National  Policy,  the,  112-14, 

New  Brunswick,  and  Confed- 
eration, 73,  74,  96. 

North- West,  its  transfer,  87-91. 

North- West  Rebellion,  the,  126- 
127,  129. 

Nova  Scotia,  and  Confedera- 
tion, 73,  79,  93  ;  ratifies  Mac- 
donald's  policy  in  connection 
with  the  Treaty  of  Washing- 
ton, 92,  96. 

Ontario,  its  population  and  con- 
dition in  1815,  2,  3. 

Ottawa,  chosen  as  the  capital 
city  of  Canada,  26  and  note, 
53,  57- 

Pacific  Scandal  episode,  the,  97- 

Papineau,  L.  J.,  leader  of  the 
Rouges,  29. 

Parliament,  and  the  Rebellion 
Losses  Bill,  20-6,  28  ;  the  se- 
lection of  the  capital,  53,  57  ; 
the  Double  Shuffle,  59-62; 
Conservatives  defeated  on 
Militia  Bill,  68-9;  the  double 


majority  principle  laid  down, 
70 ;  Liberals  defeated  on 
the  National  Policy,  113-15, 
117;  the  building-  of  the 
C.P.R.,  119-21,  122,  125  and 
note  ;  the  Electoral  Franchise 
Act,  135-8 ;  a  moderating  in- 
fluence begins  to  be  felt,  161. 

Pope,  J.  H.,  a  colleague  of  Sir 
John  Macdonald,  72,  115, 
118 ;  his  political  sagacity, 

Prince  Edward  Island,  and 
Confederation,  73,  74,  96. 

Quebec,  as  a  seat  of  government, 
26,  27  n.,  52  ;  its  population  in 
1861,  48 ;  Confederation  con- 
ference in,  74  ;  effect  of  Riel's 
execution  on,  130-2,  159  ;  and 
the  Jesuits'  Estates  Act,  162-3. 

Radicals  of  Upper  Canada, 
See  Clear  Grits. 

Rebellion  Losses  Act,  the 
troubles  and  disturbances  in 
connection  with,  21-6. 

Red  River  insurrection,  the,  89, 

Rhodes,  Cecil,  his  letter  to  Sir 
John  Macdonald,  174-5. 

Riel,  Louis,  leader  of  the  Red 
River  insurrection,  89,  93 ; 
and  the  North- West  Rebel- 
lion, 126-7,  129-30;  his  trial 
and  execution,  128-9  »  ar-d  its 
political  effect,  130-3,  159. 

Rose,  Sir  John,  a  colleague  cf 
Sir  John  Macdonald:  sub- 
scribes to  Annexation  mani- 
festo, 27 ;  a  close  friend  of 
Edward  VII,  64-5,  67,  68  ; 
finance  minister,  83;  takes 
up  residence  in  London,  83. 



Rose,  Lady,  the  tragic  event  in 
her  life,  65-7. 

Ross,  John,  a  colleague  of  Sir 
John  Macdonald :  joins  the 
MacNab-Morin  Cabinet,  37 ; 
resigns,  46;  and  Confedera- 
tion, 62. 

Rouge  party,  its  programme, 
29  ;  its  alliance  with  the  Clear 
Grits,  31,  35,  36,  47,  69-70 ; 

35,  36, 
to     Co: 


Russell,  Lord  John,  defends  the 
Rebellion  Losses  Bill,  25  ;  in 
the  Hudson's  Bay  Company 
investigation,  49. 

Ryerson,  Rev.  Egerton,  super- 
intendent of  Schools,  55-6. 

St  Andrews  Society  of  Mont-  | 

real,  24. 

School  question,  the,  54,  55. 
Scott,  Thomas,  his  murder  at 

Fort  Garry,  89,  93,  127. 
Seigneurial    Tenure,  abolition 

of,  37  and  note,  45. 
Sherwood,  Henry,  a  colleague 

of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  19-20. 
Sicotte,  L.  V.,  leader  of  French- 
Canadian   wing    of   Liberal 

Government,  69-70. 
Smith,  Donald  A.     See  Strath- 

cona,  Lord. 
Smith,   Frank,  a  colleague  of 

Sir  John  Macdonald,  152. 
Smith,  Goldwin,  two  examples 

of  his  malevolence  and  wit, 

103-4  J  and  Sir  John  Macdon- 

ald's  Imperialism,  154-6. 
Spence,  Thomas,  a  colleague  of 

Sir  John  Macdonald,  37. 
Stephen,  George.     See  Mount  i 

Stephen,  Lord. 
Strathcona,     Lord,     his     first  j 

meeting  with  Sir  John  Mac- 
donald, 89-90 ;  his  mission  to 
Red  River  Colony,  91;  and 
the  C.P.R.,  121,  125 ;  two 
anecdotes  concerning,  170-1. 

Sweeny,  Robert,  the  tragedy 
of,  65-7. 

Sydenham,  Lord,  governor- 
general,  14,  34. 


Tache,  Sir  Etienne,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  44, 
14.  70. 

ompson,  Sir  John,  acolleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  142, 
146,  156 ;  his  character,  146-9. 

Tilley,  Sir  Leonard,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  77, 
115 ;  his  continuous  spell  of 
office,  145. 

Toronto,  a  comparison  in  popu- 
lation, 14,  48 ;  as  a  seat  of 
government,  26,  27  n.,  52. 

Tupper,  Sir  Charles,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald :  his 
work  on  behalf  of  Confedera- 
tion, 42,  77,  79  ;  his  influence 
in  Nova  Scotia  and  his  rela- 
tions with  Macdonald,  79-80, 
115,  156-8,  172-3;  his  interest 
in  the  C.P.R.,  119,  120, 122 ; 
high  commissioner  in  Lon- 
don, 141  n.,  146. 

Tupper,  C.  H.,  a  colleague  of 
Sir  John  Macdonald,  153. 

Union  Act  of  1840,  the,  34-5,  54, 

United  Empire  Loyalist  settle- 
ments in  Ontario,  4-5. 

United  States,  and  reciprocity 
with  Canada,  75,  113-14,  172, 
173;  and  the  Treaty  of 



Washington,  91-3  ;  the  fran-  | 
chise  system  in,  134. 
Upper  Canada,  development  of 
between  1851  and  1861,  47-8. 

Von    Shoultz,   his  career   and 
court-martial,  9-12. 

Warde,  Major  H.  J.,  killed  in 
a  duel,  66. 

White,  Thomas,  a  colleague 
of  Sir  John  Macdonald,  144, 
156 ;  an  unlucky  politician, 


Wolseley,  Colonel,  quells  the 
Red  River  insurrection,  90, 

Wright,  Alonzo,  the  « King  of 
the  Gatineau,'  a  characteristic 
speech,  167-9. 


Edited  by  George  M.  Wrong  and  H.  H.  Langton 
of  the  University  of  Toronto 

A  series  of  thirty-two  freshly-written  narratives  for 
popular  reading,  designed  to  set  forth,  in  historic  con- 
tinuity, the  principal  events  and  movements  in  Canada, 
from  the  Norse  Voyages  to  the  Railway  Builders. 


1.  The  Dawn  of  Canadian  History 

A  Chronicle  of  Aboriginal  Canada 


2.  The  Mariner  of  St  Malo 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Voyages  of  Jacques  Cartier 


3.  The  Founder  of  New  France 

A  Chronicle  of  Champlain 


4.  The  Jesuit  Missions 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Cross  in  the  Wilderness 


5.  The  Seigneurs  of  Old  Canada 

A  Chronicle  of  New- World  Feudalism 


6.  The  Great  Intendant 

A  Chronicle  of  Jean  Talon 


7.  The  Fighting  Governor 

A  Chronicle  of  Frontenac 


The  Chronicles  of  Canada 


8.  The  Great  Fortress 

A  Chronicle  of  Louisbourg 


9.  The  Acadian  Exiles 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Land  of  Evangeline 


10.  The  Passing  of  New  France 

A  Chronicle  of  Montcalm 


11.  The  Winning  of  Canada 

A  Chronicle  of  Wolfe 



12.  The  Father  of  British  Canada 

A  Chronicle  of  Carleton 


13.  The  United  Empire  Loyalists 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Great  Migration 


14.  The  War  with  the  United  States 

A  Chronicle  of  1812 



15.  The  War  Chief  of  the  Ottawas 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Pontiac  War 


16.  The  War  Chief  of  the  Six  Nations 

A  Chronicle  of  Joseph  Brant 


17.  Tecumseh 

A  Chronicle  of  the  last  Great  Leader  of  his  People 

The  Chronicles  of  Canada 


1 8.  The  'Adventurers  of  England '  on  Hudson 


A  Chronicle  of  the  Fur  Trade  in  the  North 

19.  Pathfinders  of  the  Great  Plains 

A  Chronicle  of  La  V6rendrye  and  his  Sons 


20.  Adventurers  of  the  Far  North 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Arctic  Seas 


21.  The  Red  River  Colony 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Beginnings  of  Manitoba 


22.  Pioneers  of  the  Pacific  Coast 

A  Chronicle  of  Sea  Rovers  and  Fur  Hunters 

23.  The  Cariboo  Trail 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Gold-fields  of  British  Columbia 


24.  The  Family  Compact 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Rebellion  in  Upper  Canada 


25.  The  Patriotes  of  '37 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Rebellion  in  Lower  Canada 


26.  The  Tribune  of  Nova  Scotia 

A  Chronicle  of  Joseph  Howe 


27.  The  Winning  of  Popular  Government 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Union  of  1841 


The  Chronicles  of  Canada 


28.  The  Fathers  of  Confederation 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Birth  of  the  Dominion 


29.  The  Day  of  Sir  John  Macdonald 

A  Chronicle  of  the  Early  Years  of  the  Dominion 

30.  The  Day  o/  Sir  Wilfrid  Laurier 

A  Chronicle  of  Our  Own  Times 



31.  All  Afloat 

A  Chronicle  of  Craft  and  Waterways 


32.  The  Railway  Builders 

A  Chronicle  of  Overland  Highways 


Published  by 

Glasgow,  Brook  &  Company 


PC  162  .C47  v.29 


Pope,  Joseph,  1854-1926. 

The  day  of  Sir  John 

flacdonald  :  a  chronicle 
AYX-2033  (mcih)